Tuesday 20 March 2018

Shark attack: Bride tells how she cradled dying husband

Ian Redmond and Gemma Houghton
Ian Redmond and Gemma Houghton

Gordon Rayner, and Dean Nelson in the Seychelles

The widow of a British tourist killed by a shark has described how she cradled him in his final moments and told him: "You’re going to be all right."

Ian Redmond was still conscious when he was brought ashore in a boat, and looked at his wife Gemma with a “mixture of fear and relief” when he saw her, she said.

She held his head and his hand and told him "I love you" before having to be dragged away by helpers.

Mrs Redmond, who was sunbathing on the beach when her husband was attacked in the Seychelles, had earlier heard “the most awful scream” as he cried out for help and said, “I can still hear it when I close my eyes”.

She is expected to fly 30-year-old Mr Redmond’s body home to Wigan, Lancs., today, where his funeral is expected to be held at the church where the couple married less than a fortnight ago.

Mrs Redmond, 27, tearfully recounted how she had run across the beach to the boat in which her husband was brought ashore after the attack on Tuesday.

She told the BBC: “The man who had pulled the speedboat in wouldn’t let me go to it, and I screamed at him ‘it’s my husband’. He looked me in the eyes and said: ‘Go on then.’

“I could see Ian was laid back in the boat, his arms out, and he was conscious. He looked up at me and I looked at him and I could see a mixture in his eyes of fear and of a realisation, a relief, that he had seen me, that I was there.

“I reached down my hand and I held his face, I grabbed hold of his face and got his hand and held it to my chest and said to him: ‘You’re going to be all right. We’re going to look after you, we’re going to sort you out'.

“I think I told him I loved him very much - I hope I did – and then a man dragged me away.

“They were very kind, the men, they picked me up, I don’t remember my legs touching the floor, they dragged me away, I was very, very distressed.

“They took him out of the boat and brought him somewhere higher up on the beach.”

Mrs Redmond, a teacher, had been filming her husband snorkelling moments before the tragedy on Anse Lazio beach on the island of Praslin on Tuesday.

She said: “It was very, very clear, the sea is beautiful around here. I could see the top of his snorkel because he had a bright orange band around it so I could follow where he was.

“All of a sudden I heard this ‘Help!’ and I thought at first he was sneezing because when he snorkelled the day before he sneezed into his snorkel and it made this most tremendous noise around the bay.

“I looked up again and I heard ‘Help!’ and the most awful scream. I can still hear it when I close my eyes.

“He has never screamed like that before because he is such a strong man, so brave.”

Mrs Redmond said her husband had earlier laughed off suggestions that killer sharks were at large, and when Mrs Redmond asked a hotel receptionist whether sharks posed a danger, she had been assured that there were no sharks in the island waters.

“Ian had laughed at me when we were on Denis Island, I overheard a man teasing his wife saying there’s sharks and things, and I asked the lady on reception and she said ‘No, not in the Seychelles, the Seychelles are very safe waters’.

“One of the reasons that we picked to come to the Seychelles was the beautiful waters, the fact that it’s like an underwater aquarium and there’s not really any dangerous animals.

“I’ve heard of stone fish and you have to be aware of currents when you’re snorkelling but we didn’t really think that sharks would be in the Seychelles at all.

“It wasn’t something we were aware of.”

Other holidaymakers have claimed the government in the island nation played down the death of a French swimmer on Aug 1 to protect the all-important tourist industry.

The official response to the earlier death, which was barely mentioned by the state-controlled media, has been likened to the plot of the film Jaws, in which the mayor of a coastal resort refuses to close the beaches despite warnings of a killer shark on the loose.

But Mrs Redmond said: “The last thing I would want is for any of these events to affect the Seychellois people, their livelihoods and the tourism in the area.

“It’s a beautiful place, people must come, it’s a one-off accident and I know that everyone is doing everything they can to ensure that the island is safe.”

The couple married on Aug 6 in St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Dalton, near Wigan, and a relative said: “The funeral arrangements haven’t been made yet but it is likely to be at the church where they were married.”


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