‘Apollo’s name will live on’ – dad of drowned Portsmouth boy plans water safety charity

Apollo Badran, seven, who died on holiday in Lanzarote
Apollo Badran, seven, who died on holiday in Lanzarote
Q Shillingford

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THE family of a boy who drowned on holiday hope his name will live on as they plan to launch a water safety charity.

Little Apollo Badran, seven, died four days after being found at the bottom of the deep end at a hotel swimming pool in Lanzarote.

A coroner yesterday ruled the boy’s death a ‘dreadful accident’, saying if lifeguards had been present the Southsea youngster’s fate ‘could have been reversed’.

Now Gus Badran, father of the Year 2 pupil at St Swithun’s Catholic Primary School, has told how he hopes no family will suffer the same tragedy.

‘I don’t want to have anybody who has a child to go through what we have,’ he said.

‘I want to remind myself and for his name to carry on.

‘We will be doing this with other organisations as well.’

Portsmouth Coroner’s Court yesterday heard how the ‘talented, witty and cuddly’ youngster died on May 30 after being put in an induced coma, after the incident on May 26 last year.

No lifeguards were at the pool at H10 Lanzarote Gardens, in Lanzarote.

Apollo was getting ready to swim with his siblings, his paternal aunt and grandmother when he ‘simply disappeared’.

His aunt and grandmother searched for him around the children’s and adults’ pools at the hotel but did not see him.

Apollo’s mother, Annelies Denecker, who was not on the trip, told the inquest a British police officer on holiday spotted him submerged and wearing swimming trunks after she went down a slide into the pool.

Ms Denecker, who was told what happened in a phone call from Apollo’s grandmother, said she was told Apollo ‘simply disappeared’ and the adults were about to go back into the hotel to find him.

‘Suddenly they heard shouting,’ she said.

Telling of the police officer who saw Apollo, she said: ‘She came down the slide, she went under and thought she saw something under the water.

‘She came up and said to her husband “I think there’s a little boy at the bottom of the pool”.

‘She was with her husband and he pulled him out.’

She added: ‘There happened to be a lot of English guests and nurses there and they started to perform CPR.

‘What we have found from all the information, there were no lifeguards to be seen that were supposed to be there and when they finally arrived 10 minutes later they didn’t know quite what to do.

‘We do not know if he slipped or went down the slide.’

Apollo, from Southsea, was first taken to a local hospital and then to Gran Canaria where he died four days later on May 30.

Holidaymakers had tried to resuscitate Apollo, who may have fallen into the water.

Coroner David Horsley said information from Spain had been ‘sketchy’.

‘AN AMAZING SON’

YOUNG Apollo Badran has been hailed as an ‘amazing son’ with an incredible smile.

His parents Annelies Denecker and Gus Badran, who were at the inquest, paid tribute in a statement with Apollo’s siblings Eva, 10, and Oscar, seven.

After his death pupils planted a tree at St Swithun’s Catholic Primary School to remember him.

The family tribute said: ‘He was always trying to make his friends laugh – and usually succeeded! He was determined, a quick learner, wonderfully creative and enjoyed sport, being healthy and strong.

‘Losing Apollo has left a permanent vacuum in all our lives.

‘He was a happy, kind boy with the most incredible smile, a wonderful brother to Eva and Oscar and an amazing son to us both.

‘We are very grateful to our Southsea community, church and school who came together at such a difficult time and continue to support us still.

‘We have been touched by the many messages, kind words and memories of Apollo which people have shared and these are a great source of comfort.

‘The time we had with Apollo was far too short but we will always treasure the memories of our talented, witty and cuddly boy.’

Yesterday addressing the parents at the inquest, coroner David Horsley said: ‘The most feasible explanation seems to me that it’s some sort of dreadful accident that’s happened.

‘He’s gone into the water, suddenly he’s not been seen.

‘If as you suggest there are supposed to be lifeguards there who weren’t there, that’s a matter for the Spanish authorities rather than me to take criminal action if there is a criminal act in Spain.

‘If they were supposed to be there it’s tragic that they weren’t because it could have reversed the situation quite clearly.’

He added: ‘Despite the efforts made at the side of the pool and at the hospital they’ve been unable to save the poor little boy.’

Gus Badran, Apollo’s father, who, together with Ms Benecker, was not on the holiday, told the inquest: ‘Either he’s perhaps used the slide or stumbled and fallen.’

A pathologist said the cause of death was acute global cerebral hypoxia ischemia following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Spanish authorities initially recorded the death as a ‘natural death’ but then started a ‘judicial death’ probe. The outcome has not been shared with the coroner.

Detective Inspector Roger Middle said he had seen no evidence of foul play.