Son sues over mother’s tragic death in holiday home airing cupboard
A grieving son is suing a resort company after his mother died from hypothermia when she became trapped in an airing cupboard at her holiday apartment.
Former policewoman Elizabeth Isherwood fought for several hours to free herself after a door handle malfunctioned, locking her in the cupboard in the middle of the night.
She clawed through brickwork and plaster to try to escape, using a pipe she had broken as a chisel to try to cut through the walls. But water spraying from the other end of the broken pipe drenched her as she battled to escape, accelerating the hypothermia.
Now her son Craig, 33, says he is seeking compensation from holiday resort owners Macdonald Resorts over the tragedy. Mrs Isherwood, 60, from Wolverhampton, became trapped on the first night of her one-week stay at the Plas Talgarth holiday complex near Machynlleth in Wales in September 2017.
An inquest heard the part-time care worker had got up in the middle of the night and became trapped in the cupboard in the en-suite bathroom. Her body was found by staff at the end of the week.
Mr Isherwood, from Palmers Cross in Wolverhampton, alleges that Macdonald Resorts was negligent in failing to check whether the door handle was working properly.
The RAC patrolman said he was bringing the action to try to prevent any other family going through a similar ordeal.
“My mother died in the most terrible circumstances you could imagine.
“We think she had been trying to escape for several hours. She broke off a pipe and used that to try to break through the walls, but as a result water was spraying down on her.
“Because of the exertion her body temperature was sky high but when she stopped her temperature plummeted because she was soaked and hypothermia set in. We believe she died that night or the following day.
“Tragically, she had made a hole big enough to climb through, but did not realise her way out was only blocked by a picture screwed to the other side of the wall.
“A couple in a neighbouring apartment heard banging and thought they would report it if it went on after 5pm. Sadly, my mother gave up her attempt at five past five so they assumed it had been maintenance workers who had finished for the day.
“Mum was fit and healthy and had years of a very happy life ahead of her. She had been playing golf almost on a daily basis and enjoyed looking after my two daughters, for whom she provided lots of care. She had a great job as a part-time carer which she thoroughly enjoyed because it meant she was able to meet lots of new people.
“The legal action is not about the compensation, because how can you put a value on a life? It is about the fact that this should never have happened. I just want the company to admit that they made a mistake in not checking the door properly and make sure that this cannot happen to anyone else.”
Mr Isherwood is being represented by Adam Wilson, an Associate in the Serious Injury and Clinical Negligence Team at leading Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler.
Mr Wilson said: “This was a quite horrific tragedy. There is no amount of money which can compensate Mr Isherwood and his two children for the loss of a much-loved mother and grandmother.
“But we believe that this was a tragedy which could, and should have been avoided. It is impossible to imagine the distress that Mrs Isherwood must have gone through as she tried to free herself from that cupboard.
“The central issue is whether the company was negligent in not correctly maintaining the door at the property, which we believe to be the case.”
Mr Wilson said the action would seek compensation for Mrs Isherwood’s injuries and the loss of the care she had been giving to her grandchildren.
Mrs Isherwood, known as Mary to her friends and family, had been holidaying alone for the final time at the complex at Pennal, after the family had agreed to sell its share in the timeshare apartment.
She had served as a policewoman before moving into teaching and a career in the Post Office and then emigrating to New Zealand.
She had returned to the UK to be close to her family and regularly cared for grandchildren Molly, 11, and Poppy, aged eight.
Mr Isherwood said he had had to tell his children the details of the tragedy after they were revealed at the inquest earlier this year.
“It is the worst possible conversation a father can have with his children, but thankfully they are incredibly resilient, even though they miss their grandmother terribly.”
The inquest ruled Mrs Isherwood, who was not wearing any clothes when she got up to go to the bathroom, died of misadventure.