Family still searches for answers one year after Northampton woman dies holidaying alone in Cuba

Andrea McHugh.
Andrea McHugh.

A Northampton woman is fighting for answers one year after her sister died in mysterious circumstances on a snorkelling trip in the Carribean.

Andrea McHugh, 27, was holidaying alone in Cuba on June 17, 2016, when she booked a snorkelling excursion through a Thomas Cook hotel, which was overseen by the Cuban Government.

In circumstances unbeknown to the family, Andrea passed away during the trip and one year later, the family are still calling for answers into her cause of death.

Maria Dixon, Andrea's sister told the Chronicle & Echo: "Andrea decided she was going to go on holiday, it would have been the first holiday she had gone on alone, she was really looking forward to it.

"She was having a good time from what I could understand, she had text me on June 17, 'ring me if you want today is the day,' I called her and she said, 'today I'm going out to swim with the dolphins', I said 'brilliant, have a good time, I'll speak to you later, take care, I love you'.

"She went out with the dolphins and that was it."

Andrea had just started the second week of her 14-day Carribean trip when she died.

The family were told by Thomas Cook that, shortly before her death, she was seen snorkelling close to the net area of the boat.

An email from the holiday company described how the captain of the ship "jumped in" to the water and pulled Andrea on deck before a customer - who was a nurse - performed CPR.

Her body was later flown home and laid to rest but the family have had no updates regarding an inquest date and fear it could be up to three years before they have an insight into how she died.

"We need answers, nobody is telling us anything about what actually happened out there," Maria said.

The coroner's officer for Northamptonshire confirmed that there have been no updates from Cuba and there is currently no set date for Andrea's inquest.

Paying tribute, Maria said: "She was the inspirational girl, she was the youngest girl, but she was the one who would hold everyone up.

"If you felt down she would cheer you up with her comical little jokes."

Andrea, a second-year graphic design student, took part in a 100ft abseil for John Radcliffe hospital and also did the 5k run for cancer before she went on holiday to the Caribbean.

"We were supposed to do the 5k run this year together, but now I have to do it on my own, it's a big loss."

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “We have been supporting the McHugh family since this tragic event, both through our representatives in resort and our welfare team in the UK.”