THE family of a man left severely disabled after an accident at a swimming pool 30 years ago is still looking for answers about what happened, following his recent death.
Daniel Giebeler was just 16 when he suffered devastating brain injuries in unknown circumstances during a visit to the old Hayes Swimming Pool, in Central Avenue, on April 17, 1983.
Starved of oxygen for nearly an hour, and put on life support machine for two days, he spent two years in Hillingdon Hospital’s children’s ward before being transferred to a rehabilitation unit in Putney.
Ever after he was unable to walk, talk, move or see, and needed round-the-clock care as a resident at a Hillingdon Council-run home in Colham Road, Hillingdon.
He died unexpectedly on June 2 after suffering heart failure, almost exactly 30 years to the day of his accident.
His funeral was held at Cherry Lane Cemetery on June 26.
Daniel’s loving family, who still live in Hayes, have never found out, or come to terms with, what happened.
“We have heard so many different stories over the years. We don’t know what to think any more,” said Daniel’s elder sister, Gaye Moustafa.
“We don’t know whether he banged his head or something else caused it.
“We heard that his friend pulled him out of the pool, and that the ambulance took 40 minutes to get there.
“When he was in hospital, we stayed with him all day for the first few weeks. Those weeks turned into months and years, and we just prayed he would wake up.
“There were 100 people there at the time but no one saw anything. The police spoke to people but they got nothing, and no one has come forward with any new information.
“We need to know what happened, and if anyone knows anything even after all this time, we would like to know.
“My dad, Leonard, died in March, and he has gone to his grave not knowing the truth.”
Mrs Moustafa described Daniel, a small boy for his age, as a ‘naughty, lovable rogue’ who loved karate and swimming and was looking forward to leaving school and finding work.
“My son, Marc, was born a year after the accident, and Daniel couldn’t wait to be an uncle.
“I had three children, and when we went to visit I would lay them down next to him.
“He wasn’t always responsive, but he knew our voices and when we visited he would sometimes laugh whenever we said a joke.
“An old friend of Daniel’s from Townfield School got in touch not long ago, and she thought he had died in the pool.
“I think a lot of people assumed that, or weren’t told otherwise.”
Speaking about the profound effect it has had on the family, Mrs Moustafa said: “Dad gave up his job so he could spend more time with him. Mum took it really hard, she has never been the same since that day.
“Daniel has suffered so much and he hasn’t had a quality of life, but my mum would always say: ‘Where there is life, there is hope’, and she has never given up on him.”
n If you knew Daniel and would like to send your memories and tributes, or if you can help the family piece together what might have happened, email firstname.lastname@example.org.