Irish mother died in airport fall on surprise visit home
Judith Coughlan was on her way to surprise her father with a Christmas visit
A young Irish mother who fell to her death in a Spanish airport was on her way to surprise her father with a Christmas visit when the tragedy occurred.
Judith Coughlan (28) was on a walkway in Alicante-Elche airport when she fell over a railing and dropped around 18 metres to the ground below on Sunday.
The mother of two was killed instantly.
Her partner had dropped her at the airport minutes earlier and was not aware of the tragedy until the authorities contacted him.
"Judith was on her way to surprise me with a visit home for Christmas. I had no idea she was coming," her father Brian said from his home in Arklow, Co Wicklow.
"Instead I got a call on Christmas Eve to say she had died," he added.
In another tragic twist, Judith's mother Corey was in Australia where she was due to get married to her current partner when her daughter was killed.
Corey is well known in Arklow where she has worked with the local county council in roles including litter warden and recycling.
Judith had moved to Spain with her partner and two daughters around a year ago.
News of the tragedy was only slowly filtering through to the town of Arklow yesterday.
"I'm told that the authorities have looked at CCTV of the area where Judith had what looks like an awful accident," said Brian.
"They say she wasn't pushed and she didn't jump, but that she fell over a low railing," he added.
He paid tribute to Judith as a strong-minded young woman.
"She was a strong and healthy girl as a child and we lived together until she was 15 when my relationship with Judith's mother broke down.
"I can't believe this has happened. Her two little girls are just gorgeous and at least we will still have some of Judith through them," he said.
"I'm not a fan of social media myself, but whenever Judith would see posts or videos that were slagging people or showing them drunk she would defend the people in them straight away. She hated seeing people being made fun of in that way," he added.
"Judith was tough and bloody minded, and I was proud of that," he said.
Her remains were cremated yesterday and Brian was due to fly out to Spain today to see his grandchildren.
"I might try and take some of Judith's ashes home and scatter them here," he said.
He said that since the tragedy he has been very encouraged by the support of his neighbours and the people of Arklow.
"They have been brilliant and they are all looking out for me. I am very thankful for that," he said.
Authorities in Spain have launched an investigation into the exact circumstances of Judith's death.
The airport is located in the south-east of Spain and serves the Murcia and Valencia regions.
It is popular with Irish tourists and is served by airlines including Ryanair and Aer Lingus.