A HEARTBROKEN British family has said they are still hunting for answers ten years after their teenage son plunged to his death from a fifth-floor hotel balcony in Spain.
Glyn Summers was just 17 and on a college trip when he fell over the balcony railings at a hotel in Barcelona in October 2011.
The engineering student, from South Wales, had been permitted by college staff to go out drinking with other students just hours before his fatal fall.
A decade on his family says they suspect a cover-up as they are still waiting to see the internal investigation report from the college – which merged with Coleg Morgannwg to create Coleg y Cymoedd two years after the incident.
The college, however, argues legal restrictions prevent it from giving the family unrestricted access to the report and even the family’s insurance company has refused to assist them because one tutor told investigators Glyn had jumped – despite a police report saying no tutors were present at the time.
Glyn’s brother Sion, 32, said the college has remained tight-lipped on the death of his ‘absolute joy’ of a brother due to ‘confidentiality reasons’.
Sion said: “It’s the 10 year anniversary of Glyn’s death in October and unfortunately, we feel we still haven’t had any genuine or meaningful exchange with the college of what the circumstances of the accident was. They have refused to release the results of an investigation that they did into the accident which caused his death.
“I just don’t see where humanity is in it, it’s just completely devastating. The fact we are still going over it 10 years later is draining, it takes you back to that week where I was constantly on edge, constantly wondering what had happened.”
The Summers have said they will continue to fight for answers and are determined to know why the underage pupils were given permission to attend the nightclub on the night of the accident.
They have also launched a petition asking the Welsh Parliament to conduct a public independent investigation into Glyn’s death as well as the college’s actions in the aftermath.
Sion said: “If my brother was with a school on the trip, the local authority would have stepped in sooner to do an investigation, but with further education colleges it doesn’t work that way.
“We’re calling for the Welsh Government to launch an independent investigation into my brother’s death and to tighten the rules of what is allowed when college students are taken on trips.
“I’m a teacher myself and I would never dream of giving permission for a student to drink alcohol, especially if underage.
“Nothing can bring Glyn back but for me, I can’t rest knowing that this could happen to someone else and I want to stop that.’
Sion alleged that the family was first told their son had jumped from the balcony and insinuated that Glyn had committed suicide.
But 10 months later, when the family received a translated incident report from Spanish police, the family were shocked to learn that eyewitnesses had confirmed that Glyn had fallen.
The report also revealed that no tutors were present at the time of the incident. Glyn’s family claimed the tutors were staying in a separate hotel from the pupils.
“We were led to believe that Glyn had committed suicide, and so for 10 months while we waited for the Spanish police report, trying to grapple with that,” said Sion.
“He was an absolute joy, he was constantly smiling – it didn’t make sense that he would suddenly jump off a balcony. It didn’t make sense to us which is why we wanted to find out more about it and get the police report. It slowly came out that he had fallen, there were eyewitness reports – and if he had wanted to commit suicide he wouldn’t have tried to get back onto the balcony.”
Karen Phillips, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd said: ‘The death of Glyn Summers, during an overseas trip in 2011 organised by the former College Ystrad Mynach, was a tragic accident that was deeply distressing for family and friends as well as staff and fellow students who continue to feel his loss.
“The safety and wellbeing of the students in our care is, and always will be, the over-riding priority for Coleg y Cymoedd. Our safeguarding policies, procedures and practices are constantly monitored to ensure the safety of all staff and students participating in College trips and other activities.
“Since assuming responsibility for the former College Ystrad Mynach, we have sought to co-operate as fully as possible with Glyn’s parents, Welsh Government, and others during these difficult times.
“As the successor college we have responsibility for keeping documents related to the former College Ystrad Mynach. While legal constraints prevent us offering unrestricted access to the documents in this case, we have endeavoured to do as much as we are permitted to give Glyn’s parents the information which they have requested. We have taken a similar approach in liaising with Welsh Government.
“Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with Glyn’s family and loved ones.”