Karen Canning and David Bradley, from Derry, are calling for answers to how their five-year-old son Colum Canning fell into the pool at the Explorers hotel.
The heartbroken couple spent Christmas caring for Colum’s twin brother Kieran and their seven-year-old daughter Caitlin, but are now preparing to lay Colum to rest.
“Colum was just a typical wee boy who was so happy, so loving and so full of energy,” the couple said in a statement.
Although he suffered from autism he was such a smart child, a real thinker who may not have been able to communicate like others but certainly knew everything that was going on.
Karen Canning and David Bradley pay tribute to their son
“Christmas was always such a special time for us as a family and all the children were so excited at this time of year, with the boys celebrating their birthday on St Stephen’s Day.”
Staff at the Thomas Cook-owned three-star Explorers Hotel close to the Disney resort confirmed there had been no lifeguard on duty when Colum fell into the water.
Colum disappeared from his mother’s view shortly after the family arrived at the venue.
The boy was quickly discovered in the water by another guest who jumped in and dragged him out, but he had already lost consciousness.
Colum died in hospital after his parents took the decision to switch his life-support machine off. They agreed to donate their son’s organs.
The couple said they would be demanding a check of safety measures in the hotel.
“We are very concerned to learn there was no lifeguard on duty. As parents our first instinct is always to protect our children.
David Bradley and Karen Canning
“Therefore, it is very difficult for us to come to terms with the fact there was no-one around to look after them in the pool.”
The parents revealed how the child went missing within seconds, before the tragedy quickly unfolded.
“Karen had only turned around to fetch a camera to take a picture of our three children and when she turned she could only see two faces.
“She instantly panicked and could not find him anywhere. At first she thought he was just hiding. The employee on duty at the desk near the pool said he did not see him.
“Not long after Karen noticed the commotion by the pool and just knew it was Colum.”
After the tragedy a spokesman for travel agent Thomas Cook said its deepest sympathy was with the family.