British woman drowned in Alicante after ‘not waving hard enough’


A BRITISH woman on holiday in Alicante drowned after Spanish lifeguards refused to take action as she ‘wasn’t waving hard enough’ an inquest into her death has been told.

Julie Dudhill, 57, drifted away from her husband while they both swam near the Costa Blanca city on June 27. When he saw that she was struggling, he desperately swam back to shore to seek the help of lifeguards.

At the inquest on October 4 he reported that four lifeguards had shrugged their shoulder, suggesting that Mrs Dudhill would be ‘waving her arms about more’ if she was in mortal danger.


When he rushed back into the sea himself, one lifeguard followed suit, but it was too late and his wife was dead by the time they managed to take her back to the shore.

He told the inquest that his wife was an experienced swimmer familiar with that particular sea.

‘She would not be calling out if she didn’t need help’’, he said.

‘They didn’t react and stayed on the shore line. They suggested to me that if she was having difficulties she would be waving her arms about more.

‘By that time, which felt like five minutes later, two more lifeguards turned up and she was waving at them but they were under the impression she was OK.

‘They seemed to think she was not in danger despite what I was saying to them. She was calling out to them. I can’t understand why they didn’t react faster.

‘I could see the lifeguards were not doing anything so I went in but one of them called me back.

‘Then one of the lifeguards took a leisurely swim out to her. The next thing I know the lifeguard is saying she needs oxygen. By the time they brought her back I just knew it was too late.’

The coroner has reported that Mrs Dudhill’s drowning was an accidental death. More than one thousand people have drowned off Spanish beaches in the past two years.


  1. This is tragic but appears to be the typical Southern Spanish attitude to most things, along with little interest in what they are doing unless it is a young girl involved. They have a dislike or rejection of being told what they should know, I have found their reaction to this on most cases is to not respond by replying with a statement contrary to what you said, I feel it gives them some kind of feeling of hurt pride if you state something they should know or they get the feeling it gives them some sort of authority where they feel small on lacking while in reality it just shows the persons stupidity.

    If a lifeguard is asked for help, doesn’t give it and the person dies then that must be manslaughter but of course we are in Spain dealing with a Spanish subject at fault and a foreign victim along with Spanish authorities so we know the Spanish person will be off free. I am sure it would be totally the opposite if things where turned! This macho “I know better” attitude when they “very obviously” do not is one of the biggest dislikes I have with many of the Southern Spanish people.


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