Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Tourist trapped 2,800 miles from home after ‘freak’ wave swept her out to sea

A young tourist has been left stranded after booking a last minute holiday that left her with a severe nerve injury to her spine.

Charline Edwards, who flew to Cape Verde with her boyfriend Callum Aston without travel insurance, was swept out to sea by a huge wave as she relaxed in the water.

Dubbed a “freak accident”, Charline suffered a nerve injury to her spine that’s left her unable to feel her arms or hands.

Boyfriend Callum claimed it took three hours for her to reach a hospital and that the full extent of her injuries would not be known until she was examined in the UK.

An GoFundMe appeal has been launched to cover the £40,000 thought needed to have the 24-year-old, from Sutton Coldfield, flown home with medical assistance.

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The couple took the holiday from a colleague at short notice but forgot to arrange travel insurance.

“When I eventually stood up myself from the wave, she was nowhere to be seen. She was about 20 yards down into the water, where it had dragged her back out to sea, when I managed to find her.”

With no lifeguards to help, Callum told BirminghamLive he had to “swim against the current to drag” his injured girlfriend back to the shore. “Eventually when I got her to the beach, an elderly couple who had spotted us in the distance tried to help me carry her,” he said.

“Eventually, after about five minutes, the lifeguards came over but at that time, she couldn’t move anything from her neck down. But the lifeguards were trying to drag her by her arms and legs up the beach. I said: ‘You can’t do that, she’s hurt her back, it’s going to cause more damage.’

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“I was begging for help, asking them to call an ambulance. It took them more than 30 minutes for them to call an ambulance and over two hours for paramedics to arrive on the beach.

“After the two hours the hotel manager went and got a wheelchair for disabled guests and we had to carry the wheelchair off the beach. So from the minute of the accident, it took over three hours while she was lying in excruciating pain, shouting and calling for help.

“She had to be wheeled all the way to the other side of the hotel to a main road to get into the ambulance. The care in the hospital, which is the only English-speaking hospital on the island, has been abysmal.

“I had to lift her in and out of a CT scanner because there was no staff available to help.” Callum claimed doctors “intentionally kicked” her bedside and squeezed her arm to check if she was in pain.

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He said: “She’s been left in her own urine for two days because doctors won’t change the sheets. The entire time I’ve been there fully feeding her, trying to wash her, clothe her, change her, making sure she constantly has painkillers, she’s been given no support by the doctors at all.

“We’ve had a really bad experience in the hospital. We’re worried that, if we can’t get her home, her injury could become long-term because there’s no MRI scanner on the island so we can’t see how extensive the nerve damage is.”

The accident happened last Thursday, three days before they were due to fly home. The couple discovered Charline had suffered a nerve injury in her spine, but will not know the severity until she has an MRI scan in the UK.

Her hospital bills have already hit £10,000 with the couple paying more for every day they were stuck on the island, Callum said. Charline has been told she cannot fly home on a commercial plane as she “cannot sit up or stand on her own”. The only options are a flight with a stretcher or an air ambulance.

The lowest quote so far is £38,000. To donate to their GoFundMe, click here.

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