London, England, December 1, 2019 – Britain’s Sunday Times is reporting that a luxury Caribbean hotel owned by Bill and Melinda Gates is at the centre of a legal claim by the mother of a young man hit and left to die in the sea by a speedboat carrying its guests.
Keryan Grimault-Queret, 24, died in February last year while snorkelling in a designated swimming area off Pinney’s Beach on the island of Nevis.
Witnesses, including his fiancée Estelle, saw him hit by a speedboat towing a banana inflatable, with a tourist family on board. The boat stopped briefly, then, witnesses say, sped back to the Four Seasons resort, whose guests have included Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Douglas.
She wrote to Mrs Gates, “as one mother to another”, asking for the Four Seasons to take action but received a lawyer’s letter in response. Mrs Paver and her family are pursuing legal cases in Nevis and in her native France alleging that:
• The speedboat was driven by an unlicensed teenage employee of a water-sports company subcontracted to the Four Seasons resort.
• The boat and its driver were not properly insured.
• The hotel guests — a couple and their three children — on the speedboat did not give witness statements and left Nevis the next day.
• Keryan’s body was left in the water and retrieved by a visitor to the island who had use of a boat.
Local police opened an investigation, took statements and arrested the speedboat driver but released him after 48 hours. Nearly two years after Mr Grimault-Queret’s death, no one has been charged.
Mrs Paver, 61, battled back tears as she recalled the day her son died. “We were a happy family, I was a happy mother,” she said. “My three sons were my strength and suddenly one pillar is missing. He was slaughtered and I can say that because I went through two identifications. I saw what a propeller can do to the face and the body.”
Her legal action pitches the luxury hotel group, which Mr Gates and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia took control of in 2007, into a second high-profile court case. In October the widow of the leading barrister Ian Brownlie, QC, won the right to sue the group over his death and that of her daughter while on a safari tour in 2010 arranged by the chain’s Nile Plaza hotel
Mrs Paver said she could not understand the decision of the tourist family, who were on holiday from New York, not to help her son or give evidence.
She said: “I can understand the panic on board the boat but I cannot understand this kind of human behaviour. What kind of example are they showing to their children?”
She insisted her motivation was not revenge but to improve the standards of care and responsibility at Four Seasons and hotel groups across the world. Mrs Paver said: “I don’t want any other family to be left devastated as we are.”
Four Seasons said: “We continue to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of the deceased . . . The matter is being handled through the appropriate legal channels and we cannot comment.”
Keryan’s family are campaigning for hotels around the world to adopt a new protocol of safety standards:
Keryan’s protocol – Hotels must have independently monitored safety policies, All subcontractors must be fully insured and their staff trained and qualified, Where incidents occur hotels should accept liability, Hotels must accept a duty of care to victims, Safety and first aid training should be mandatory for hotel staff, Hotel staff should co-operate with police inquiries, Sports and leisure activities should be managed under globally agreed standards, Clearly demarcated swimming areas should be established.
Marie-Claire Paver, the dead man’s mother, told The Times that her efforts to obtain an explanation or apology from the hotel had been met with “arrogance and indifference”.