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Dad Eric Finlayson of Spencer Avenue, Leek, died while snorkelling in Australia

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 22, 2014

By Post & Times reporter

coroners court

North Staffordshire Coroners Court

GRANDMOTHER Jane Finlayson has spoken of her distress at seeing her 68-year-old husband drown while on holiday in Australia.

Father-of-three Eric Finlayson died in Michaelmas Cay, Cairns, during a snorkelling trip in October 2012.

An inquest at Macclesfield was told that some members of staff employed by the trip's organisers had not received first aid training.

Now the organisers of the trip may face prosecution by the Australian authorities.

Mrs Finlayson, aged, 71, a grandmother-of-five, of Spencer Avenue, Leek, said: "I am appalled that some of the members of staff had not even been given basic first aid training.

"You expect people who run these trips to be able to look after you and make sure you are safe.

"We had been planning the trip for three months and had been looking forward to it.

"I remember saying to the staff afterwards 'how could you let this happen?'"

A statement from Mr Finlayson's GP, which was read out at the inquest, said the retired management consultant had a long history of high blood pressure and that he had declined to take treatment as he felt he was on a lot of medication already.

Mrs Finlayson told the inquest: "Eric had gone to see the doctor just before he went away and he had his blood pressure taken and he was told it was high.

"We had no idea there was anything wrong with his heart.

"On the day we set off for the snorkelling trip, he seemed fine.

"When I was in the water, I thought Eric was behind me but later, I realised he wasn't there.

"I could see someone sitting on the beach and I was sure it was him because he wasn't wearing a wetsuit.

"I couldn't think why he had gone back except he might have been having difficulty keeping up with the group.

"When I started swimming back, I couldn't seee him anymore on the beach. When I got closer, I could see some agitation in the water.

"I saw one of the girls giving a distressed signal and saw them pulling something out of the water.

"The captain did some compression on Eric's chest but when I got out of the water, I realised he was dead. I told one of the girls that Eric was my husband.

"Other people started doing CPR but I didn't see the point because it seemed like he had gone.

"Some doctors arrived and they told me there was nothing more they could do."

Jean Harkin, assistant coroner for Cheshire, said the cause of death was drowning.

She said: "It must be very distressing to the family to hear the evidence given in that the girls identified as being on the look-out were not trained in resuscitation procedures.

"If they were trained, there may have been a better outcome.

"My conclusion is that Mr Finlayson got into difficulties while snorkelling and died as a result of drowning.

"This court has no jurisdiction over Australian businesses and authorities, but the matter has been reported to the Australian authorities."

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