EXCLUSIVE: My daughter died in a diving accident in Albania despite being an experienced diver – but authorities have not charged anyone and my family want justice
- George Gannon, 61, is still searching for justice for his dead daughter, Rebecca
A heartbroken father has slammed Albanian authorities for ‘dragging their heels’ after failing to charge anyone for the death of his daughter in a diving accident a year ago.
Rebecca Gannon, 29, died last a year ago next month while on holiday with her boyfriend Robert Kerans, after they went down into the water to look at a sunken wreck.
Grief stricken dad George Gannon, 61, has spent the last ten months in the seaside town of Sarande looking for answers and above all justice but has met with silence from officials.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, George, from Stone, Staffordshire, said: ’This has cost my family our business and our sanity, but we won’t stop fighting until we get justice for Beccie.
‘I went to Albania a month after her funeral and I spent the winter, spring and first part of the summer there just to try and find out what happened.
Grief stricken dad George Gannon, 61, has spent the last ten months in the seaside town of Sarande looking for answers to his daughter’s death
‘How can a young girl with everything to look forward to in life end up dying while on holiday,’ George said
Rebecca and Robert both had PADI diving certificates and on that fateful day last September
‘How can it be that almost a year later nothing has happened? It’s an open and shut case, ‘ George asked
READ MORE: British woman, 29, who drowned while scuba diving in Albania – as devastated boyfriend says dive instructor ‘didn’t pay much attention’ while checking gear before they went in the water
‘How can a young girl with everything to look forward to in life end up dying while on holiday? Why can we as a family not get any answers as to what exactly happened?
‘She was an experienced diver and had dived in New Zealand, Australia, South America, Canada and England. She had years of experience and was perfectly healthy.
‘I’ve asked to speak to the prosecutors, and I’ve been very polite because I know there is no point going in angry, but security won’t even let me through the door.
‘Her death certificate says she drowned but me, my wife, my son and may daughter want to know why she died, and we want justice.
‘How can it be that almost a year later nothing has happened? It’s an open and shut case. It’s not complicated it’s the people who organised the trip and we want to see them in front of a judge, but it doesn’t look like its going to happen any time soon.’
Rebecca and Robert both had PADI diving certificates and on that fateful day last September had chosen to go out for a dive with a firm called Spiranca Diving Centre.
Rebecca was an experienced diver who had dived in New Zealand, Australia, South America, Canada and England
George says Beccie told him that nearly all the equipment on the boat was faulty
George blames the people running Spiranca Boat Centre for his daughter’s death
READ MORE: Albanian national is jailed for his role in people smuggling plot after eight illegal immigrants almost drowned when yacht they were on sunk off Devon coast
George, who used to run a bakery business with his wife Gill, said: ’There was twelve people on the boat when Beccie died, and we know the visibility wasn’t good but the owner still took them out.
‘Beccie had even said her life jacket wasn’t working and one of the team gave it a shake and said “it’s fine” but obviously it wasn’t, and we know her oxygen tank was virtually empty.
‘We know that Beccie went over and then Robert came back up because his ear was popping but the guide went up with him and they should have stayed with my daughter.
‘She was left on her own and the visibility was poor and she disappeared – it took them twenty minutes to realise she was missing and by the time they went down to her and found her she was dead.
‘The equipment was poor, and the organisation was shoddy and as a result my daughter died but the authorities are doing nothing, and we just can’t get justice.
George says he got in some trouble after lighting this memorial in the sea where Rebecca died
He says he’s sunk his life savings into finding out the truth behind his daughter’s death
‘This has cost us more than £40,000 as we’ve spent our savings and because I’ve been in Albania, we’ve closed the business down because my wife is too heartbroken to work.
‘We’ve had no support from the Albanian police, the local prosecutors and the British Embassy in Tirana have done nothing.
‘We were even told to try the Greek Embassy because they might be able to get things going but what authority do they have as Beccie was British.’
Following the tragedy, the manager of the diving firm Saimir Kushova and his partner Gerta Brozi were arrested on suspicion of violating health and safety regulations but were later released on bail.
George – who is now on anti-depressants – added: ’We haven’t even been able to have an inquest here in Staffordshire yet because the coroner keeps asking for the paperwork from the Albanians and hasn’t been sent anything.
‘When I first arrived back in October the local police chief was a bit reluctant to help but then he opened up and I felt as if we were getting somewhere but then he was transferred out of the area, and it was back to square one again.
‘He told me though it was down to the company and faulty equipment, although it doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out and that’s why we want the owners to face justice.
‘I spent Christmas and New Year in Albania on my own, my wife came out for a few days but she couldn’t face being there so went home because it was too much for her.
‘I only went back to England in July for my son’s wedding and to get some respite from the heat because it’s so hot out there, but I will be going back in September. I’m not going to stop until there is justice for Beccie.’
An English inquest into Rebecca’s death hasn’t been launched as Albanian authorities have not yet sent over the required paperwork
Both George and his wife Gill have been unable to work due to the grief
‘It was the worse day of my life and I had only seen her a week before when she stopped by to say goodbye,’ the grief stricken dad said
George added: ’I’ll never forget the day we found out Beccie had died – we were at home watching the Queen’s funeral on the TV when two police officers knocked on the door and told us.
‘It was the worse day of my life and I had only seen her a week before when she stopped by to say goodbye.
‘The whole world just caved in and that’s why we want to see justice. She should never have been abandoned and she shouldn’t have been given faulty equipment.’
While in Albania, George drew comfort by taking a boat out to where his daughter died and then setting fire to a wooden memorial which sank to the bottom of the sea and he said: ’I got into a bit of trouble for it but it was worth every penny.’
Lawyer Erion Muka, who is representing the family and who is based in the Albanian capital of Tirana, told MailOnline: ’Back in May I asked the prosecutors to provide us with all the evidence that they had gathered so far but up until now we have received no reply.
‘They should have responded within 15 days as it is the family’s right to know what is happening with the investigation, but we have not had any response which is adding to their pain.
‘They just want to see the case resolved and the people involved in court but for someone reason we just don’t seem to be getting anywhere.’
The family have set up a crowd funding page on Just Giving to try and raise funds to help cover legal costs.
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