Gran died on coach trip in Switzerland but travel firm ‘didn’t contact family’ – Manchester Evening News
A grandma died in a horrific road accident during an organised coach trip in Switzerland – but the travel firm didn’t bother to tell her family, an inquest was told.
Yun Kiu Law, 65, was among a group of mostly elderly, Chinese-British tourists on a tour of several European countries when she died on December 30 last year.
Stockport Coroner’s Court heard how the mum-of-two appeared to have become “confused” during a stop at a service station just outside Basel, and tried to cross a busy motorway on foot at around 6.30pm.
Tragically, she was struck by a car as she reached the third lane, suffering multiple serious injuries and died at the scene.
Mrs Law was a “strong-minded” widow who lost her husband in her 30s and raised her two daughters largely on her own, coroner Alison Mutch was told during the hearing.
She lived alone in a flat in Withington but was in regular contact with her daughter Alison Law.
Speaking at the inquest, Alison Law claimed no one from Omega Travel got in contact with Mrs Law’s next-of-kin to let them know what had happened to her.
“I had to make a phone call to Omega,” said Ms Law.
“She was due back on the Saturday, the weekend before my son’s birthday. His birthday is on the 7th January.”
“She should have been back by the 4th or the 5th. I started ringing her number – she didn’t answer. I thought she had gone shopping, I kept calling on day.
“On the 8th January I called the travel agency to see what’s going on. They were just saying they couldn’t let me know what had happened.
“They said the police were saying they couldn’t say anything until they spoke to us.”
Ms Law said she and her husband then “panicked” and began asking at police stations in Manchester for help.
They spoke to the Swiss Embassy in London but still couldn’t get any information, the court heard.
Eventually, a police coroner’s officer got in touch with them and delivered the tragic news.
Mrs Law told the inquest: “We think Omega breached their care of duty, we think a lot more should have been done.
“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else – especially, elderly single ladies travelling by themselves. I know my mum, she thinks before she does things.
“She thinks twice. People get mixed up there and end up on the wrong side of the road.”
Assisting the coroner for Greater Manchester Police, officer Alison Catlow told the court she had been sent CCTV of the incident by authorities in Switzerland.
She said it shows Mrs Law “climbing over the barrier and hard shoulder” before trying to cross the road.
She crossed the first two lanes “without any problem” but was struck by a vehicle in the third lane, Mrs Catlow said.
A post-mortem exam was performed in both Switzerland and the UK and a pathologist found that the cause of death was multiple serious injuries consistent with Mrs Law having been struck by a car.
Coroner Ms Mutch asked if Mrs Law’s family “weren’t notified for quite some time?”
“Yes, communication from Omega was very slow coming through,” said officer Catlow.
The coroner recorded a ‘short form’ verdict that Mrs Law died as a result of a collision with road traffic.
Speaking to her daughter Alison Law, she added: “You and your sister must have thought she was going to be safe, travelling in a group with the support of a travel agency.
“You didn’t know anything was wrong. That must have been very difficult trying to find out what had happened to your mum.
“You felt let down by the travel agency who hadn’t told you – you had to go to Greater Manchester Police to try and find out. I can only imagine how distressing this must have been for you and your family.
“That poor communication has been a feature of what has happened since your mum died.”
The M.E.N has been unable to contact Omega Travel for a response since the inquest.
We reported last month how travel operator Omega Travel collapsed earlier this year owing more than £20million to creditors.
The company, which specialised in travels to the Far East and had branches in Manchester, London, Birmingham, and Edinburgh, had its ATOL license suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority in September.
Paul Stanley and Dean Watson of Begbies Traynor in Manchester were appointed as joint compulsory liquidators of Omega Travel and have launched an investigation to recover substantial amounts owed to creditors.
Omega Travel has traded under various names including Far East Travel Centre, Budget Travel, Travelsky.co.uk and Chinese Travel Shop. Recently it changed its name to Milburn Travel.
Turnover recorded by Omega Travel last year was nearly £300m.
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