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Family Of Nine Instruct Expert Travel Lawyers After Suffering Carbon Monoxide Poisoning On Five-Star Christmas Ski Holiday

Irwin Mitchell Investigate How Trip Of A Lifetime Ended In ‘Nightmare’ Chalet Emergency

29.01.2018

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A British family has instructed expert international personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate after they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning during a five-star Christmas ski break in France.

The nine family members had to receive oxygen and were taken to hospital after emergency services were called to their chalet, which opened around a year ago.

The children, aged three, two and 21 months, were among the party who stayed at the Chalet Hellebore in the French Alps resort of La Plagne Soleil.

The family, which included Bryan and Lorna Elliott, from Wiltshire, has now instructed specialist international personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the incident.

The holiday was provided by Skiworld, care of Travel Counsellors. Skiworld has now said “the cause of the build-up of carbon monoxide within the chalet was a snow-blocked air intake flue.  It is the case that considerable snowfall had been experienced in the resort; conditions so far this season have been described as a “once in thirty-year” event”. 

Expert Opinion
Bryan, Lorna and the rest of the family were exposed to carbon monoxide in their holiday accommodation which could have had fatal consequences, as it has in previous tragedies elsewhere. Our clients required emergency treatment in hospital and we are investigating the long term effects of their exposure.

“Holiday companies have a responsibility to ensure that customers are kept safe from potential risks to their health and safety. The family are quite rightly upset that a special family skiing trip ended up with six adults and three children receiving treatment in hospital.

“It is widely known that exposure to carbon monoxide can have terrible and sometimes tragic consequences. Our investigations are at an early stage, however, it is vital that steps are taken to avoid a repeat of this incident.”
Jennifer Lund, Partner

Bryan and Lorna, aged 59 and 58, from Chippenham, departed for the seven night ski holiday near the city of Albertville in south-east France, on 23 December.

They were joined by their sons and daughters-in-law and their grandchildren; Paul, who turned 38 during the trip, his wife, Kerri, 34, and their children, Harry, six, and Charlie, two, who live in Malmesbury; as well as Alexander, 36, his wife Poppy, 33, and their son, Lachlan, 21 months, who live in Colliers Wood.

The family had enjoyed a day on the slopes on 29 December – the last day of their holiday – before they returned to their chalet.

Very early the next morning, around 12.30am, Harry became violently sick and Kerri collapsed whilst attempting to attend to him. Paul had almost passed out but fortunately was able to rouse himself enough to be able raise the alarm.

Fire crews treated all nine at the scene with oxygen before the ambulances and paramedics arrived with more oxygen and transported everyone to various hospitals across France.

All of the family returned to the UK following treatment. However, they are still suffering ongoing symptoms, including sickness and memory loss, and it is not yet known whether they will suffer long-term effects.

Bryan said: “Everyone was so excited ahead of the trip and were having a great time but that suddenly changed without any warning.

“To see people dropping like flies was truly terrifying. I’m just so grateful that Paul managed to raise the alarm because I dread to think what the consequences may have been.

“The doctors have said it’s too early to say if anyone will have any long-term effects. At the minute I’m thankful that everyone got out of the chalet alive.”

Bryan said: “It seemed like an age until the fire service arrived but I’m so thankful for everything they did. I feel that without their help things could have been a lot worse. When they came into the chalet in their breathing apparatus their carbon monoxide meter was going crazy. I asked one of the firefighters how high the reading was. He showed me the meter which was reading 300 ppm. He immediately pointed to the door for everyone to get out.

“What should have been a family holiday of a lifetime ended being a nightmare. My lasting memory is being blue lighted in an ambulance to hospital connected to an oxygen bottle.

“As a family we now want answers as to how this could have been allowed to happen. Surely procedures should be in place to check boiler flue inlet/outlets in a snow resort at 2000 metres. Why were there no carbon monoxide detectors? We just hope that no other families have to go through an experience like this.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling sickness abroad cases.