Holiday girl lay drowned in pool as friends swam

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The Independent Online
FRIENDS of a British girl who drowned in a swimming pool on the Greek island of Crete said yesterday that they had bathed in the pool while her body lay on the bottom for more than 12 hours.

They said that the water was so murky that it was impossible to see the bottom. Holidaymakers searching for Joanne Todd, 17, dived into the 10ft (3m) pool repeatedly but her body was not found until managers at the apartment complex where she was staying were persuaded to drain it.

Joanne, of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, went swimming alone at 4.30am on Monday after a farewell party at Golden Apartments in Aghios Nikolaos. The alarm was not raised until noon, when her cousin and roommate, Lisa Snowball, 17, woke up and realised that she was missing.

Lisa and two other friends searched all afternoon for Joanne with the help of dozens of tourists. Both police and British consular officials were informed of her disappearance, but the swimming pool was not drained until 5pm.

Marion Tzanaki, the British Vice-Consul on Crete, said last night that the water in the pool was not dirty. 'The tiles on the bottom at the deep end are dark green and you literally cannot see the bottom,' she said. 'The water is clean and safe to swim in, although it does appear murky.'

Joanne, a secretary, was on her first foreign trip without her parents. Her father, Tyrone Todd, said last night: 'It's hard to believe that they waited all that time before draining the pool. While Joanne was lying dead, there were people playing and swimming in the water.'

Mr Todd said that his daughter had learned to dive during the holiday and he believed that she was practising in order to demonstrate her skill to her parents when she returned. 'She had phoned us on the Sunday night and was over the moon at being able to dive.'

Lisa said: 'We looked everywhere and two lads dived in to see if she was in the pool but they couldn't find her. After a while we assumed she'd gone off and was having a laugh at our expense - she was a bit of a practical joker.'

Two other friends, Gillian Warren and Elaine Christie, went swimming during the day. Gillian said: 'The thought never crossed my mind that she would be at the bottom of the pool while we were playing about just feet above her.'

Next Island, the London-based holiday firm through which they booked their holiday, said that Joanne's death was 'a matter of deep regret on both a personal and commercial level'.

The company, which sells more than 85,000 Greek holidays a year, said the pool was maintained regularly and cleaned at least three times a week. It had used the apartment complex for three years and there was an annual inspection to ensure that accommodation and facilities met their stringent criteria.