Pictured: British boy and cousin killed in Rhodes parasailing accident, alongside sibling who is fighting for life, years before holiday tragedy
- Cousins Jessica Hayes, 15 and Michael Connolly, 13, died in Rhodes yesterday
- A terrifying storm blew up off the coast causing a freak parasailing accident
- Michael’s brother James Connolly, 15, was critically injured in the incident
The first photo of the British children at the centre of a fatal parasailing accident in Rhodes has emerged.
Cousins Jessica Hayes, 15, and Michael Connolly, 13, died when a terrifying storm blew up off the coast of Rhodes causing the rope fastening them to a speedboat to snap. Michael’s brother James, 15, was critically injured in the incident.
Today, the first image emerged of the three children. Taken in 2012, the photo shows them huddled together and smiling in their school uniforms.
The trio veered onto a jagged outcrop just out of sight of sunbathers.
But news of the tragedy didn’t immediately filter back to their families staying at the four star Lindos Princess Hotel two miles away.
Pictured from left to right in a photograph from 2014: Jessica Hayes, James Connolly and Michael Connolly
James’s mother fainted when she saw the damage caused to the face of her son, who was the only survivor of the crash, protothema reported.
When she regained consciousness, eyewitnesses said
Yesterday a staff member told how a mother from the group came out to the beach where the teenagers had set off from after they failed to return.
He said: ‘She was asking the lifeguards, “Where are the kids? They should have been back by now. She had no idea what had taken place. No one did.”
‘The company that took the kids out have been operating here for about fifteen years.
‘Nothing like this has happened before.
‘The first we realised was when the coastguard came and took the boss away.
The teenagers, two aged 15, and another, aged 13, were holidaying in Rhodes, Greece , when the incident occurred causing them to fall from an ‘extreme’ height
‘Two boats were taken too, presumably for forensic examination.’
Locals said the storm which claimed the children’s lives blew up without warning.
Builder Manolis Markoulis, 60, said: ‘It happened in a split second, the sky turned black and a big wind blew up.
‘There was a sandstorm on the beach and people ran for cover.
‘It’s a freak accident and the whole island can’t get over what happened.’
Yesterday workers for the parasailing company – which operates from a stretch of beach at the rear of the hotel – were being questioned by the island’s prosecutor.
Meanwhile the parents of the dead children were taken to a local morgue to identify them.
It’s understood the family at the centre of the tragedy are from Corby, Northamptonshire.
The two teenagers were found on the rocks near the city of Lindos in Rhodes, Greece
Last night A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said that responsibility for the case lies with the Greek authorities and the Foreign Office but that the Northamptonshire coroner will be informed.
The children are believed to have fallen from a height of 400-feet.
Yesterday it emerged the boat handler at the centre of the tragedy may now face manslaughter charges for not ending the trip when the storm began.
A spokesperson for Greek coastguard said: ‘The coastguard was informed of the accident by a military watchtower and the water sports company.
‘A coastguard vessel was sent to the scene immediately.
‘The ambulance service was informed.
‘They were found by coastguard in a secluded rocky area and they were pulled out by the 51-year-old parasailing boat handler with the help of the fire service.
‘The 15-year-old boy was taken to the General Hospital while the dead were taken to the morgue.
‘An investigation is underway. The boat handler has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.’