What’s your worst vacation story? A Thanksgiving where the whole family ends up in an argument, a winter vacation where it rained the whole time or the airport lost your bags? Maybe it rained the whole time and the airport lost your bags. You got Montezuma’s revenge in Mexico – none of these are pretty scenarios. We put our earnings, our holiday time and our hope into vacations and we save up all year to take a break somewhere else, so when it doesn’t pan out as expected we’re understandably disappointed.
What if your worst vacation was really worse than anything you could have imagined? Someone died or whole towns washed away? These are truly horrible experiences – not just bad vacation stories. Try to imagine a nightmare of a vacation, where Twister meets Missing and becomes Cold Case Files. These are seven awful vacation nightmares that really happened – just be thankful they didn’t happen to you!
7. Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild: Parasailing massacre
Last summer, best friends Alexis Fairchild and Sidney Good were on vacation in Florida from Indiana. Multiple photos from their life before the vacation illustrate their closeness. In Panama City Beach, FL, Sidney and Alexis decided to parasail. Tethered to each other and attached to a speedboat by another line, the girls wore life jackets. Those did not help them, though, when the line to the boat snapped in heavy winds.They slammed into a pair of condominium buildings, when witnesses report their screaming stopped. They then fell onto power lines, and lastly onto cars in a parking lot below. Good had a brain injury, which affects her vision, memory and emotions.
6. Rosa Ayala-Gaona Esparza: Death by roller coaster
Last summer was a rough one for several holiday-goers. In Texas, 52-year-old Rosa Esparza was on a roller coaster at Six Flags in Arlington when anyone’s worst imaginable roller-coaster fear occurred: The woman, large in stature, asked about her harness. Everyone else’s made three clicking sounds and hers made only one. An attendant checked the harness, which, though it was not all the way down her thigh, the system registered as locked. On the third ascent, Esparza’s daughter, who was with her husband in the car ahead of her mother, looked back and saw her mom being ejected from the car. She did not see her land, and a good thing, too – as Esparza’s body was nearly completely severed.
5. Cheznye Emmons: Jungle-methanol poisoning
Spring 2013: British tourist Cheznye Emmons and her boyfriend were travelling through southern Asia. In Indonesia they purchased what they thought was gin from a small roadside shop, sharing it with a friend they’d met along the way. All three became very ill within a couple of hours, but Emmons was most affected. It transpired the gin had been poured out of its original bottle and had been replaced with methanol, a cheap and highly toxic alcohol made by distilling wood. Methanol makes antifreeze, some solvents and fuels. Emmons went blind. At a clinic in Sumatra she was placed into an induced coma, but was brain dead long before her family arrived from Britain to take her off life support.
4. Brittanee Drexel: Without a trace
In April 2009, 17-year-old high-school student Britanee Drexel left Rochester, NY without her mom’s permission to go with friends to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Telling her mother that they were on Lake Ontario, the young people instead went to the Bar Harbor Hotel, which they made their vacation stop. Two evenings after her arrival Brittanee went partying with some of the boys in the group. Around 9:00 pm video footage shows her leaving the Blue Water Resort alone to walk a mile of beach back to her hotel, where her girlfriends were waiting. She never arrived, and her body has never been found.
3. The Forkans: Tsunami horror
Anyone old enough will remember the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 that killed 300,000 people. The British Forkan family, all but the two eldest, left their new home in Goa, India, for an impulse Christmas vacation in Sri Lanka. This was to be a Christmas to end all Christmases for the family. When the tsunami hit, the two youngest children were in a hotel room with their parents and the older boys in their own room. Everyone was washed outside as windows shattered and walls collapsed. The oldest brother, Rob, was able to grab Paul before he was washed away. Their parents saved the youngest children by putting one each on their shoulders and getting them to safety, but were then washed away themselves. The children were orphaned. Their parents bodies were recovered three months after.
2. The Kim family: Off the beaten path
Another tragic holiday tale is the Thanksgiving 2006 disappearance of the Kim family. While driving from Seattle to San Francisco, the Kims missed their exit for Route 42. Kati, navigating while husband James drove, spotted a small road on the map that seemed to connect back with their route. They decided not to turn around and would instead reroute onto this road. This was a fateful error. The road, higher up, wasn’t cleared in winter: Kati fell asleep, and with the snowfall, James missed the only turn. The car got stuck and the family was lost. They stayed with the vehicle as is recommended, but a week later and after burning their tires, James resolved to go for help. Two days later, help came to the mother and two young children with the car. James died trying to find a way out.
1. Madeleine McCann: Abduction
Kate and Gerry McCann of the UK took their three young children to a town in the Portgugal called Praia da Luz during a 2007 spring holiday with friends. The adults dined most evenings at a resort at the periphery of their block of apartments. Because the restaurant had no view of their apartment, the McCanns and their friends took turns leaving the table to check on their children. The patio door to the McCann’s ground floor flat latched from the inside only. It was left closed, but not locked. On their second-to-last night, three-year-old Madeleine was taken and has never been found. To add insult to severe injury, the parents were said to be suspects in her disappearance at one stage early on in the investigation.