EXCLUSIVE – Moments from disaster: British family enjoy tour through Cyprus mountains… then cheat death as vehicle flips off road and is only stopped from falling hundreds of feet when it rolls into a tree
- Jeanee Tumbridge was celebrating her 60th birthday with her family in Cyprus
- They won a Jeep excursion up the Troodos Mountains from their TUI hotel
- Driver veered off the side of the road and rolled into a tree above a 200ft drop
A British family has cheated death after their tour guide’s 4×4 veered off a mountain road in Cyprus and nearly plummeted hundreds of feet off a cliff edge before it was stopped by a tree.
Jeanette Tumbridge was celebrating her 60th birthday at TUI’s Louis Ledra resort in Paphos with eight family members when they won a free excursion in a Land Rover up the Troodos Mountains after winning a Halloween scavenger hunt.
But her daughter-in-law Kristina O’Connell said it nearly turned out to be a ‘first prize to our deaths’ after their driver ignored warnings by driving at speed off road despite some passengers not wearing seatbelts.
Footage shows the family enjoying the wild ride through the dirt roads on the final day of their holiday just an hour before disaster struck.
A British family has cheated death after their tour guide’s 4×4 plummeted off a mountain road in Cyprus
As the weather got increasingly dangerous on their tour, the driver continued to plough on and ended up veering off the side of the mountain, rolling the vehicle twice before it came to a halt by a tree above a 200ft drop.
Along with her mother, Ms O’Connell’s brother-in-law Lee Evans and her uncle David Gorton went on the trip, while two German tourists were also in the car.
She told MailOnline: ‘We set off from the hotel and instead of the driver taking a left, he just drove over the reservation at the roundabout – we looked at each other but we just thought maybe that’s something they do in Cyprus.
‘He then took us off road and we got to the next stop off at an old 16th century bridge and then when we got back in it started to rain.
‘We stopped again at a waterfall, when we got there it was really raining at this point. When we got to the entrance, the other jeeps were pointing a different way because they were using the main road and our driver was using off road tracks.’
On the excursion were (from left to right) David Gorton, Kristina O’Connell, Jeanette Tumbridge and Lee Evans
Footage taken around an hour before the crash shows the car tearing through the off-road tracks
The family went on the trip up the Troodos Mountains after winning a Halloween scavenger hunt
As the weather got increasingly dangerous on their tour, the driver continued to plough on and ended up veering off the side of the mountain
Ms O’Connell said a weather warning was in place that day cautioning drivers not to drive off road, and they were the only car not using the main routes.
She continued: ‘We started driving further up the mountains and the weather was getting worse and worse the further we went, it was hail, it was raining and I remember at one point looking out to the front and you couldn’t see out of the front because of the condensation.
‘By this point, my mum said she just wanted to go home now because he kept on going off road, it was really bumpy and the weather was bad.
‘I was then looking down at my phone and I just remember my mum screaming, ‘No no, no!’.
‘We’d come off a cliff edge and we were just rolling. I didn’t have a seatbelt on so I smacked heads with my brother in law, glass smashed and then we stopped and I blacked out.
‘I remember waking up with my mum hanging over the top of us because she still had her strap on.’
Ms O’Connell said a weather warning was in place that day cautioning drivers not to drive off road
Jeanette Tumbridge was celebrating her 60th birthday at TUI’s Louis Ledra resort in Paphos with eight family members when they won a free excursion in a Land Rover
Brother-in-law Lee was able to get out of the back of the car and help free the others from the precarious situation, with the car just being propped up by the tree, although Ms O’Connell was blacked out.
She credits Lee as their ‘hero’ for helping everyone get free.
Ms O’Connell said: ‘I can’t remember two hours from standing off the top of the cliff, picking glass out of my mum’s hair, until police arriving.
‘My mum and I were taken to hospital, mum had severe whiplash and a bump to the head from where she smacked the roof and had CT scans, my injury was muscle damage in my shoulder.
‘The driver suffered a broken bone in his shoulder and we were told he can’t remember anything of the day, despite him calling out for us on the cliff edge after the crash.
‘A policeman took our statement in the car up the mountain, he said there were weather warnings not to drive off road, that’s why all the jeeps were facing the other way but we were not aware of this.
‘He said if that tree wasn’t there you would have plummeted 200 feet to your death.’
Ms Tumbridge (right) is still signed off work and has severe nerve damage, and remains in a neck brace with shooting pain down to her neck and her elbow
The family were staying at a resort in Paphos in the west of the island nation
Brother-in-law Lee (left) was able to get out of the back of the car and help free the others from the precarious situation
The holidaymakers said TUI visited them the next day for statements on the morning of their departure but to add to their woes, they arrived at the airport to find their flight was cancelled.
Ms Tumbridge is still signed off work and has severe nerve damage, and remains in a neck brace with shooting pain down to her neck and her elbow, having been told it could take her up to three years to fully recover.
Ms O’Connell said she now has to take sleeping tablets because whenever she falls asleep, she wakes up in a panic that she is back in the jeep.
The family are suing TUI and have warned others not to go on these trips.
She said: ‘My advice is don’t do it, you’re putting your trust in these people, you trust them because they do it all the time, they should know what they’re doing, they know the roads.
‘When you’re there, you don’t think you’re possibly about to go over a cliff.
‘TUI should not be allowing these excursions to continue as they definitely shouldn’t be offering these as a first prize, it’s a first prize to your death.’
MailOnline has contacted TUI but the company said in a statement to The Sun: ‘We are really sorry to hear about Ms O’Connell’s experience.
‘We have been in direct contact with the customers to explain how to process their complaint with our legal team, therefore we are unable to comment further.’
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