A pair of newlyweds had their dream wedding destroyed after the roof of their hotel lobby collapsed on them during the rehearsal dinner.
Sarah and John Wenham had saved for years for ‘the wedding of their dreams’ in Cuba, costing more than £25,000 for themselves and 24 guests.
But they were left fearing for their lives when the lobby roof at Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel, in Cuba, suddenly buckled and collapsed – trapping them underneath and injuring many members of the wedding party, including the bride.
Sarah, 35, said: “We were just about to meet with hotel staff to discuss our wedding plans in the lobby, when John pointed out the ceiling as it started to move.
“A loud ‘bang’ followed as the roof then suddenly collapsed and fell upon us, trapping us underneath.
“The roof debris knocked us clean to the ground.
“It was so heavy that I couldn’t move under it, and I was terrified because I couldn’t get to my daughters who I could hear screaming from somewhere beneath the debris.
“I saw the blood start to gush from my head and I genuinely thought in that moment that I was going to die.”
John, from Gravesend, Kent, says he looked up after they had been in the lobby for around ten minutes to find the ceiling moving.
He shouted at Sarah and their nine-year-old daughter Mia to run, pushing them out of the way.
But as the ceiling fell, he leaped in front of baby Penny, 20-months, to shield her from the debris, taking the brunt of the weight.
John added: “It was horrifying – sheer fright.
“When we eventually found Sarah, it took two people to lift the debris off her and I had to crawl underneath and drag her out.
“After the incident, we were all traumatised.
“We didn’t know what to do for the best.
“In one split-second everything we’d planned and saved for so long was gone.
“We felt terrible that so many people had spent so much money and had travelled so far to be with us for our special day and then this happened.
“So when we were told that the wedding could still go ahead at another venue at the last minute, we felt we had no option but to go ahead with it.
“Unfortunately, we’ll now always remember the wedding as being a distraction from the horrifying events of the day before.
“We couldn’t enjoy it and we just wanted to go home.
“That’s not how we should remember our wedding day.”
John was left with two fractured ribs, an injured spleen and severe bruising.
Sarah suffered head and eye injuries and required ten stitches to a deep laceration on her face, which is now likely to leave a permanent scar.
Several other members of the wedding party suffered serious injuries, including head and spinal injuries, a leg fracture and a deep head laceration, with one guest requiring 19 stitches across the top of her scalp.
John said: “The only way we could get over it was to have the wedding, to try and mask what had happened.
“Sarah won’t look at the pictures because she’s got stitches on her face – it shouldn’t be like that.
“I couldn’t walk properly, I couldn’t lift her over threshold and I couldn’t even pick the kids up for five to six weeks.”
When the couple did have their ceremony at a different hotel, Playa Pesquero, it was in the foyer, and not the beach wedding they had planned.
But this was far from the end of the couple’s problems.
Even before the roof collapse, on just the second day of their disastrous holiday, Sarah and John’s hotel room was flooded with sewage, damaging clothes, their children’s toys and un-opened wedding gifts.
The couple say despite their bags and clothing being ruined, their belongings were never replaced.
In other rooms there were exposed wires which John, an electrician, described as looking ‘deadly’.
John and many of the other guests, including Mia and Penny, also suffered from diarrhoea and sickness throughout the holiday – later confirmed to be salmonella.
The couple have now instructed personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to take legal action against tour operator, Thomas Cook.
Jennifer Lund, a partner in the specialist international personal injury team at Irwin Mitchell, representing the group, said: “Sarah, John and their closest family and friends should have been overjoyed on what was supposed to have been an incredible holiday, centred around a magical wedding day.
“Instead, the whole trip ended up being a terrifying ordeal that will forever be etched in their memories for all of the wrong reasons.
“We are investigating the cause of the roof collapse at the Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel as well as the group’s other complaints.
“We are seeking to recover a settlement to help each of our clients with their recovery and to compensate them following the dreadful ordeal they have suffered.
“Our thoughts are with all of those injured, and we wish them a speedy recovery.
“We would be grateful to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the roof collapse or its aftermath or who can provide information about illnesses suffered by guests during stays at the Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel, as they may be able to help with our enquiries.”