Travel company denies ceiling fan that hit two-year-old’s head was ‘dangerously low’

A travel agency has denied that a ceiling fan in a Spanish apartment bedroom that hit a two-year-old son as he picked him up to comfort him was set to a dangerously low level, the High Court has heard.

Kevin Heeney, of Corofin House, Clare Village, Malahide Road, Dublin, lost a circuit court action last April against travel company Sunway Travel Ltd, trading as Sunway Holidays, over the accident in the apartment hotel which he says disrupted a family holiday in Tenerife in August 2015.

The Circuit Court concluded that it was an accident for which no one could be held responsible.

Mr Heeney appealed to the High Court. Following a hearing into the case in the High Court on Tuesday, Judge Cian Ferriter reserved his decision.

The court heard Mr Heeney’s son Mason, who was about three at the time of the incident, was crying in the room and Mr Heeney, who is 6ft 3in, picked up the boy to comfort him when the The fan’s metal blade, which was approximately 6 feet 9.5 inches off the ground, struck the boy behind his ear.

Mr Heeney, who had previously slapped his hand off the fan as he took off his t-shirt, twice reported to aparthotel management what he said was the danger of the low-level fan and sought to be moved. , but was told nothing was available, the court heard.

Mr Heeney has sued for the £3,596 in holiday costs and on behalf of his son for the harm he has suffered. Mr Heeney claimed the entire holiday was disrupted by the incident due to the need to watch the boy closely for the rest of the holiday and to take him back to hospital to have stitches removed from behind his hear.

Day of incident

Cormac MacNamara SC, for Mr Heeney, said his client, wife and two sons traveled to a resort in the Canary Islands on August 8, 2015. On August 11, after reporting the ventilator concern to the attention of the management of the aparthotel the previous two days, Mr. Heeney was about to go down to the swimming pool when Mason stirred slightly.

He lifted the boy up to console him when the fan blade hit Mason’s head, causing immediate hemorrhage. The family rushed to the reception of the aparthotel and asked for an ambulance to be called. Mr. Heeney was told it would be quicker to take him to hospital by taxi.

They took a taxi to a local doctor, who bandaged the boy’s head and arranged for an ambulance to take him to hospital, where he received three stitches in the back of his hear.

When they returned to the aparthotel, Mr Heeney spoke to the manager, who said he was surprised he had not been moved as there was alternative accommodation available, the lawyer said . The family was moved the next day to air-conditioned accommodation.

Mr Heeney told the court he pointed out to his wife during their first hour in their original accommodation that the fan was a bit low.

Cross-examination

On cross-examination by Elaine Morgan SC, for Sunway, Mr. Heeney disagreed that it was unpredictable for someone to pick up the child as he did, particularly when Mr. Heeney was aware of the fan, after complaining about it.

“There was only one cause for this accident and that was you,” the attorney said. Mr. Heeney replied that the family had asked to be moved.

Conor Murphy, an engineer called in by the Heeney side, said he couldn’t find any Irish or Spanish standards for the height of the fans, while US standards say they should be at least 10ft. Some manufacturers say they can be placed as low as 7 feet, he said.

He believed that the fan was definitely a danger because it was a moving object and hitting it could lead to serious consequences.

Judge Ferriter said he hoped to issue his decision as soon as possible.

Willie R. Golden