There were tears, pain and a great deal of emotion on show on Thursday evening as over 200 people turned up on La Zenia Beach to pay tribute to 9 year old Kai Fawcett-Bradshaw, the young boy who lost his life a day earlier after a freak accident while playing beach football.
In the game, which took place on Tuesday afternoon, the 9 year old had collided with a friend, immediately falling to the ground as he is thought to have suffered from cardiorespiratory arrest.
However on Thursday the public turned up in numbers to lay tributes to Kai at an improvised altar that was created adjacent to the beach bar, and where dozens of floral motifs, messages of support, photographs and balloons were placed by residents from across the local area.
Among those attending was Kai’s grandmother who was with him at the time of the fatal accident. She was visibly distraught as she accepted the condolences of the gathering, eventually finding the strength to thank the crowd for their kind thoughts and their many expressions of affection.
As he laid a floral tribute at the makeshift altar, the President of the La Zenia Residents Association, Felix Arenas, mourned at the loss of Kai saying that all we can now do is pay our respects to the youngster, show how much we care and offer our support and solidarity to his family at this difficult time. His words were sporadic, broken up by the emotions that showed in his voice.
He also said that he prayed “that something like this never happens again and that the Orihuela Costa is provided with the health services it deserves”, in reference to the delay in the arrival of the SAMU, which witnesses say took 40 minutes to respond.
Representing local government Councillor Sofia Alvarez added her words of condolence saying that “Today is not the day for reproach, but one of tribute to little Kai. Let us all remember him with affection because he was one of our own.”
It was disappointing, however, that she was the only member of the Orihuela government to attend.
There was also representation at the informal ceremony by officers from the Local Police who had been the first members of the security forces to arrive on the scene and offer assistance to the child. Many of his school friends from Los Dolses, as well as the college headmaster, were visibly affected as they also laid floral tributes, as was the manager of the chirunguitos bar, Ruben, who had been the first person on the scene and the first also to place his flowers, which he did with an outpouring of grief.
It was the efforts of Ruben, and his knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation that kept the child alive during the early minutes, which were vital, until the arrival of the Local Police, the Civil Guard and a doctor from Cabo Roig medical centre.
As the resuscitation attempts continued the paramedics confirmed that the child was fibrillating. Records show that a SAMU ambulance arrived on the scene 26 minutes after being called carrying additional medical equipment.
Medical staff continued with their attempts to resuscitate the child for almost an hour and they are said to have found a very weak pulse at which point a decision was taken to move him to the Hospital Quirón de Torrevieja where a medicalized helicopter transported him, still in critical condition, but still alive, to the General Hospital of Alicante.
Unfortunately, having been in a coma induced by the lack of oxygen to the brain, their efforts proved in vain as the child died on Wednesday afternoon at approximately 5pm.
The tragic loss of life of 9-year-old Kai once again reinforced the demand by residents of the coast for the completion of the La Zenia Emergency Centre where last Sunday approximately 60 people demonstrated outside the shell of the abandoned building at a gathering organised by CLARO.
In an area that has over 40,000 permanent residents, increasing to around 100,000 during the holiday periods, protestors carried placards and slogans in Spanish, German and English saying “Still no emergency centre”, “Emergency centre WHEN”?
CLARO President Román Jiménez spoke to the protesters on Sunday highlighting the importance of the proposed centre and criticising the Orihuela government for their nine years of delay in its construction.
Although the Director General of Emergencies, José María Ángel Batalla, and the Orihuela mayor, Emilio Bascuñana, announced in December that the project would be a reality by mid-2019, once work was able to resume, many people in the Orihuela Costa say they have stopped being optimistic and they believe little of what the government promises. Indeed the councillor for Emergencies, Víctor Valverde, met a week ago with the authorities in Valencia where he was told that the bidding documents were already prepared, something that I recall he had previously claimed last October.