Woman hit by falling palm tree while sunbathing on holidays recalls 'excruciating pain'
A British holidaymaker has told how she feared she would never walk again after being crushed by a palm tree while sunbathing at a resort in Sri Lanka.
Claire Saywell (42) was relaxing at the four-star Club Hotel Dolphin resort with her husband David when a 50ft tree fell across her sun-bed, shattering her legs.
Commercial insurance broker Mrs Saywell, from Sittingbourne, Kent, feared she may have been left disabled as three men struggled to lift the tree off her.
She said: "I was dozing in the sun with my eyes closed and the next thing I knew I had this excruciating pain in my legs.
"I remember seeing the tree and screaming, 'Get it off me', as the pain was nothing like I've ever experienced.
"My legs were bent down in a V shape where the sun lounger had broken and when the men managed to get the tree off, my legs looked deformed with my feet going in different directions.
"I will never get that vision out of my head. I thought my legs were gone.
"Everyone was running around panicking and I was trying to avoid looking at my legs as they were such a mess."
Mrs Saywell said the tree also hit another British tourist who suffered minor injuries, and it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to come to her aid
After being transferred to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, she had titanium pins inserted in her legs in hospital where she spent 12 days before being flown home on a private jet.
Mrs Saywell, who is now taking legal action, said she ended up with two broken legs, and suffers nightmares, flashbacks and a fear of going abroad.
She said: "Personally I would take down all of the palm trees around where people sunbathe to prevent this happening again.
"We've been offered a free holiday but I don't want to go back."
Larry Shaw, of law firm Slater and Gordon, which represents Mrs Saywell, said: "It is crucial that holiday resorts and tour operators ensure trees are properly inspected and maintained to avoid incidents like this happening again."
In a statement, travel operator Thomson said: "We're sorry to hear of Mrs Saywell's experience.
"As this is now subject to legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.
"We'd like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of the hotels we feature in respect of health and safety and that incidents such as this are rare."