A six-year-old boy from Wales has been left with brain damage and a paralysed face after an arcade game toppled over and crushed him on a family holiday.
Oscar Donnelly was also left with a rare form of diabetes after he was knocked unconscious by the 6ft darts machine which pinned him to the ground in the Spanish resort of Lloret de Mar.
The schoolboy was staying at the Aparthotel Costa Encantada with his two older brothers and parents Luke Donnelly, 30, and Samantha Matthews, 29, from Cardiff, who have now launched legal action against the hotel.
They say staff failed to anchor the arcade game securely to the floor, and claim it was tipped on top of their youngest son by the vibrations from a nearby punchbag machine in the play area of the hotel.
One of his brothers witnessed the incident during the last few hours of the family’s 10-day holiday last September and alerted the couple who found their son unconscious with his head covered in blood.
Miss Matthews, a care worker, said she feared her son had died after he was admitted to a hospital in Girona.
She said: “We were taken up to intensive care, still not knowing if Oscar was alive. We broke down thinking the worst as we were led into the family room and they told us that it was ‘not looking good’.”
Doctors battled to save Oscar’s life for three hours before he was placed into an induced coma and put on life support as they monitored a bleed and swelling to his brain.
His injuries included a punctured lung and a fractured skull, and he was left permanently deaf in his left ear.
He was also left with an eye condition meaning he cannot blink and needs regular tear replacement drops, and needs his eyelid taping shut at night.
Oscar also developed diabetes insipidus, a rare life-long disorder which means his body cannot retain enough water. It usually affects around one in 25,000 people.
His parents said they have “struggled” to deal with his medical problems, which include facial paralysis.
Mr Donnelly, a welder, said: “Oscar has changed so much. Before he was a confident and bubbly little boy, but now he gets easily frustrated, tired, confused and upset a lot.
“He never used to be aggressive at all but now he can become quite angry and lashes out. It is a constant reminder of what has happened to him.
“We are constantly worried about his future and what struggles he may face. Oscar knows his face has changed and says ‘my smile has gone, mummy’.
“We went on holiday for 10 days to relax as a family with three lovely sons, and we came close to nearly losing one of them.”
Mr Donnelly said he was also angered after seeing what he believed to be hotel staff trying to cover up their failure to secure the arcade machine to the floor.
He said: “We were beside ourselves with worry but that quickly turned into anger for me, when I saw some of the hotel staff attempting to move the arcade game away from where it had fallen on top of Oscar.
“I felt as if they were trying to remove evidence from a crime scene. It was clear to us that the machine had not been anchored down securely to the floor. This just never should have happened.”
Yasmina Villa-Lopez, a travel lawyer from Slater and Gordon, which is representing the family in their legal action, said: “This is an extreme example of a family being severely let down by the people that have a duty of care to deliver a safe environment for them and their children.
“Luckily we know that Oscar will survive this horrendous incident but what is unclear is how much this injury will affect the rest of his life and what long-term damage has been done to his brain and body.
“It’s clear that something went terribly wrong here and that all games like this must be secure and pose no risk of harm to children or any other holidaymakers.”
Aparthotel Costa Encantada has been approached for comment.
- Press Association