St Albans holidaymaker almost certainly drowned, inquest hears

A HOLIDAYMAKER from St Albans who was swept out to sea in Turkey must have died from drowning, an inquest found this week.

Devoted Christian Joe David Paul, 25, of Verulam Road, and his wife of two years Joanna were swimming along the country’s Mediterranean coast near the resort of Fethiye with tourists on the same package tour last October 15 when strong currents caught the pair unawares.

Joanna, who attended Tuesday’s inquest, was rescued and survived the episode with only a minor head injury but despite rescue attempts conducted by a nearby teahouse and the couple’s tour guide, Joe disappeared beneath the waves and was still missing when darkness fell hours later.

Five days later, Joe’s body was discovered on rocks at Gavuragili, a few miles along the coast from Patara Beach where the tourist group had been swimming.

The body was then taken to a Turkish health centre where assessments found no evidence of assault or injury of any kind.

Although it is up to the Turkish authorities to issue a death certificate, Herts coroner Ed Thomas said he was confident that Joe died of submersion: “It was clear from assessments that Joe had water within him and so I think we can be clear on the fact that he drowned.”

He added; “He was in good health and enjoying himself on what must have been a very interesting trip. What happened is tragic and I extend my condolences to Joe’s wife.”

Most Read

Joanna, a local cafe and restaurant manager who met Joe at the Vineyard Church in St Albans, said at the inquest that the pair had been enjoying a fantastic holiday: “The area we were staying in had a lot of history and beauty to it and Joe and I both loved and appreciated God’s creation completely.”

She added: “I am quite a strong swimmer, but I might not have been able to deal with the strong currents, had those people on the beach not heard my shouts and rung the alarm. A lot of people tried to help and they were all exceptional in their efforts.”