A Nando’s worker collapsed in the shower and died while on holiday – moments after saying she was fine.
Durham University first year student Rhea Hourigan, 19, was visiting her aunt in Paris for a few days at the end of April when she passed away after a mystery cardiac arrest.
The Business, Management and Marketing undergraduate had spent the day cycling through the French capital while on Easter holidays with her aunt to see the sights.
Later that evening as she was getting ready for bed the teenager, who works at the Nando’s branch in Shirley, West Midlands, collapsed in the shower.
Polly Townhill, best friend of Rhea’s mother and speaking exclusively to the Mirror, said: “She’d got in the shower and she was getting ready to go to bed.
“She’d been there for quite a long time, so her Auntie knocked to say ‘Is everything all right you coming out?’ She answered her, Rhea said: ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m on my way out.’ Then she heard a bang…”
Despite the best efforts of the paramedics who raced to the scene, she couldn’t be saved and her time of death was recorded at 12.45am.
In another devasting blow for the family, they have been unable to see their daughter due to the autopsy taking place next week.
Polly said: “She had full travel insurance but it hasn’t covered what they need. There’s so much red tape over there and they have to treat her death as mitigating circumstances.
“It would still be a tragedy without this, but her parents cannot see their child until the autopsy is done. They are desperate to bring her home.
“Jo [mother] has just faced brick wall after brick wall.”
Writing on Facebook, her devastated mother Jo said: “She had so many plans, dreams and aspirations she was our bright shining star.
“She hadn’t even finished her first year of uni which she absolutely loved up in Durham and had made so many good friends.
“Our only comfort is that she was so happy and had had such a brilliant day seeing the sights of Paris, she wouldn’t have known what had happened and didn’t suffer.”
Despite the challenges, Jo says, police, hospital and French undertakers have all been very helpful.
Polly says she and Jo were pregnant together and have been friends for 30 years.
Speaking through tears she says there are no words to explain how devastated Polly’s daughter, Rhea’s best friend, is.