The mother of a Lurgan man who went missing in Spain says she didn’t know whether to hug him or slap him when he was found on a beach.
Dean Currie, a father of two, had been missing in Benidorm for two days when his mum Anne and brother Jamie flew out to search for him.
Today Jamie said there was such relief when they found him at the beach last night.
He explained that Dean had arrived with his friend Stevie-Lee in Spain on Sunday and, after running out of beer, Dean left their hotel room to get a carry-out.
However after buying eight tins of beer he tried to return to the hotel but got lost.
Jamie said: “His hotel was in the old town and somehow Dean ended up in the new town. He got lost and ended up about three miles from his hotel. He couldn’t remember the name of the hotel they were staying in.
When she saw him she didn’t know whether to hug him or slap himJamie Currie
“He didn’t even drink the beer. He just went into various hotels trying to see if he was in the right one. That Sunday night he spoke to about ten policemen asking for help as he was lost but they didn’t seem to care.”
That night Jamie said his brother slept in doorways and tried to keep warm as he was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
“At one stage he was kicked by a policeman as he slept in a doorway. He asked the police for help but they just told him to move on. They didn’t seem to be very sympathetic. There was a fella from Holland who tried to help him. He was very worried about him as Dean was in distress.”
Jamie said on Monday Dean was exhausted and had just about given up hope. He had left his phone behind him but he had his wallet and just stayed on a sun lounger all day.
The 36-year-old had bought a towel to keep warm in the evening when he was sleeping rough.
In the meantime his mate was worried sick and went to the police station on Monday to report his friend missing.
However Jamie said again the police didn’t seem to want to know. “They did not take it seriously,” said Jamie.
Stevie-Lee got in touch with Dean’s family who contacted the British Embassy.
“It was only when the British Embassy spoke to the police in Benidorm that they started to take it seriously. They said they would look for him. They see this every day over here and they don’t really care.
“They probably thought he was at a party and didn’t take it seriously,” said Jamie.
He paid tribute to English ex-pat Paul Spencer who volunteers in Benidorm to help find missing people. He said Paul met him and his mum to help them search for Dean.
At around 6/7pm sun loungers are packed away for the day at the beach and Jamie said if Dean hadn’t been kicked off the sun lounger at that time yesterday evening, they may have missed him.
“When we found him he was very distressed. He was glad to see us. We were really worried about him.
“It really hit mum when we arrived in Benidorm yesterday,” said Jamie who added: “When she saw him she didn’t know whether to hug him or slap him.”
Jamie said Dean had fallen asleep in the sun exhausted and had got a bit burnt but he had been drinking plenty of water and Fanta.
“He is OK now that he has had a shower and food but he has since been sleeping a lot,” he added.
Jamie paid also paid tribute to the newly opened Benidorm Northern Ireland Supporters Bar who had offered to help find Dean. “And they offered to sponsor us to get home together,” he added.
He also thanked everyone at home for their messages of support.
“We are just glad he is safe and well,” said Jamie.