Costa del Sol: Hotel operator dismisses mother’s claims fault with swimming pool led to deaths

Andy Gregory
Gabriel Diya, 52, died alongside his son and daughter while on holiday in the Costa del Sol on Christmas Eve: Redeemed Christian Church of God

The Costa del Sol hotel where a pastor and two of his children drowned in a swimming pool has denied claims from his widow that something was “wrong” with the pool in which they died.

Olubunmi Diya’s nine-year-old daughter Comfort is believed to have been struggling at the pool’s centre on Christmas Eve when her son Praise-Emmanuel, 16, and husband Gabriel Diya, 52, jumped in to save her.

All three fell unconscious in the water at Fuengirola’s Club La Costa World hotel and could not be revived by hotel first-aiders or emergency services.

An “utterly heartbroken”, Ms Diya said she believed “something was wrong with the pool that must have made swimming difficult for them at that point in time”.

But the hotel’s operator, CLC World Resorts and Hotels, insisted these claims were “directly at odds with the findings of the police report”.

The company stressed that police findings make it “clear that their exhaustive investigations have confirmed the pool was working normally and there was no malfunction of any kind”, and “determine that it is a tragic accident due to the lack of expertise in swimming of the victims”.

Ms Diya insists reports that her family could not swim are false, and has hired a lawyer since the claims were published in an official Spanish police statement.

In a statement released via the Redeemed Christian Church of God, where she and her husband were pastors, Ms Diya claimed both Comfort and Praise-Emmanuel found themselves “dragged into the middle” of the pool, which was the deepest part.

All five members of the family were present when the incident occurred and they followed the instructions displayed by the poolside at all times, she said.

Despite dismissing Ms Diya’s claims, the hotel operator said: ”Our sympathies remain with the family at what we understand must be a stressful and desperately upsetting time for them.”

British swimming pool engineer Tony Reddin, who has worked in Spain for 30 years, branded the tragedy “an accident waiting to happen”.

“It beggars belief how three people have died, unless there was a problem with the pumps,” he told The Olive Press.

He explained that while most normal pools use a one-horsepower pump, those used by larger hotels can be four or five times more powerful, which he described as “serious bits of kit”.

Mr Reddin, 60, added: “That’s where the main drain is, at the deepest part of the pool, and I think that’s what the problem was at Club La Costa.”

But the Guardia Civil report said its underwater specialists “conducted several tests on the pool water purification and recycling system, which included engines and valves, as well as a dive to collect possible traces of evidence”.

The report added: “They found no irregularity in the aforementioned inspections although they recovered a swimming cap owned by the nine-year-old, which was in the pool.

“The autopsy of the bodies indicates that they died by drowning, discounting in principle, some type of chemical poisoning.

“Likewise, the bodies did not show any signs indicating bumps or scratches which would have been produced by anything connected to the pool’s operating system.”

Meanwhile, Mr Diya has been remembered as a “loving husband and devoted father” by members of his church in southeast London.

Friend and fellow pastor Lemmy Gbenga Ayodele said: “Good night my very good friend, Pst Diya. When you said ‘bye and seeing you later’ a few days ago I didn’t know you meant eternity. Difficult to comprehend and still like a dream that you went with two of your children.”

Comfort was remembered as “the most wonderfully kind, thoughtful, caring pupil who was a role model for all her peers” by Windrush Charlton primary school’s headteacher, Jo Marchant.

She said Comfort would be “greatly missed by the whole school community, adults and children alike”.

Additional reporting by AP

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