Bride, 35, buried under rubble after Cuban wedding hotel roof collapses during rehearsal

·Freelance Writer

A dream wedding was ruined for a pair of British newlyweds when the roof of a hotel collapsed on top of them, burying under heavy rubble.

Sarah and John Wenham had saved for years for ‘the wedding of their dreams’ in Cuba, costing more than £25,000 for themselves and 24 guests.

However, their dream turned into a nightmare when the lobby roof at Sol Rio De Luna y Mares Hotel suddenly buckled and collapsed during the rehearsal dinner.

The roof collapsed on the couple and their wedding guests (SWNS)
The roof collapsed on the couple and their wedding guests (SWNS)

Members of the wedding party were injured and trapped – including the bride.

Sarah, 35, recalled: “We were just about to meet with hotel staff to discuss our wedding plans in the lobby, when John pointed out the ceiling as it started to move.

“A loud ‘bang’ followed as the roof then suddenly collapsed and fell upon us, trapping us underneath.

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“The roof debris knocked us clean to the ground.

“It was so heavy that I couldn’t move under it, and I was terrified because I couldn’t get to my daughters who I could hear screaming from somewhere beneath the debris.

“I saw the blood start to gush from my head and I genuinely thought in that moment that I was going to die.”

Sarah needed 10 stitches to a cut on her face (SWNS)
Sarah needed 10 stitches to a cut on her face (SWNS)

John, from Gravesend, Kent, says he looked up after they had been in the lobby for around ten minutes to find the ceiling moving and shouted at Sarah and their nine-year-old daughter Mia to run, pushing them out of the way.

But as the ceiling fell, he leaped in front of baby Penny, 20-months, to shield her from the debris, taking the brunt of the weight and saving her life.

John, who was left with two fractured ribs, an injured spleen and severe bruising, added: “It was horrifying – sheer fright.

“When we eventually found Sarah, it took two people to lift the debris off her and I had to crawl underneath and drag her out.

The aftermath of the roof collapse shows debris everywhere (SWNS)
The aftermath of the roof collapse shows debris everywhere (SWNS)
Several guests were injured after the roof started moving and gave way (SWNS)
Several guests were injured after the roof started moving and gave way (SWNS)

“After the incident, we were all traumatised. We didn’t know what to do for the best.

“In one split-second everything we’d planned and saved for so long was gone.”

Sarah suffered head and eye injuries and required ten stitches to a deep laceration on her face, which is now likely to leave a permanent scar.

Several other members of the wedding party suffered serious injuries, including head and spinal injuries, a leg fracture and a deep head laceration, with one guest requiring 19 stitches across the top of her scalp.

The couple had saved for years for their dream wedding (SWNS)
The couple had saved for years for their dream wedding (SWNS)
John managed to protect his children from the weight of the falling rubble (SWNS)
John managed to protect his children from the weight of the falling rubble (SWNS)

Despite the chaos, the pair went ahead with the wedding at a different hotel so that people who had travelled to Cuba to see it would not have wasted their money.

However, John added: “We couldn’t enjoy it and we just wanted to go home.

“That’s not how we should remember our wedding day.”

The roof collapse only added to the couple’s problems after their hotel room was flooded with sewage, damaging clothes, their children’s toys and un-opened wedding gifts on the second day of their holiday.

John and Sarah went ahead with their wedding at a different venue (SWNS)
John and Sarah went ahead with their wedding at a different venue (SWNS)

The couple say despite their bags and clothing being ruined, their belongings were never replaced.

In other rooms there were exposed wires which John, an electrician, described as looking ‘deadly’.

John and many of the other guests, including Mia and Penny, also suffered from diarrhoea and sickness throughout the holiday – later confirmed to be salmonella.

The couple have now instructed personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to take legal action against tour operator, Thomas Cook.

They and the hotel have been approached for a comment.

Top pic: SWNS