Leeds family's search for answers as much-loved Stephen, 37, fights for life in holiday horror
A popular man from Farsley is in a critical condition at a hospital in Bulgaria after suffering serious head injuries while on holiday.
Stephen Speight, 37, has been placed in an induced coma at a hospital in the capital, Sofia, after surgeons operated on a brain bleed.
His mum, Barbara, 76, who has flown to his bedside, has been told he fell while intoxicated but the family fear he was attacked and are desperately searching for answers while watching him fight for his life.
Stephen’s brother Andrew Peacock, 51, said: “I know you don’t get injuries like that if you’ve just fallen.
“It looks like he’s been beaten up. He’s black and blue and swollen - all on his face and head, nothing on his body. It’s like they are trying to cover up the fact that he has been beaten
“It’s horrendous. Not knowing what’s happened to him and the fact that someone could have done this to him when he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s so placid and kind. It’s just completely out of character.”
He said Stephen - an avid Leeds Rhinos and Leeds United fan - had gone on holiday by himself “like he normally does”, to sight-see and enjoy the architecture. On Thursday, he had texted his mum to say he was going for dinner and staying in the hotel that night but on Friday morning, when his brother Gary rang, the hospital answered and said he was critical with severe head injuries.
Stephen’s mum and stepdad then flew out but Andrew said they’ve “been getting nowhere” with information from the hospital. He said: “They’re not co-operating with them. They nearly didn’t allow him to be seen. Mum’s traumatised.”
Andrew added: “We won’t know how Stephen is until they wake him up. I think they’re going to try to wake him up on Thursday.”
A Gofundme page, set up by friends, raised over £4,000 in the first 24 hours and will help with medical costs and bills while the family establish if Stephen had insurance.
Family friend Jayne O’Shea said: “He’s a really lovely genuine guy - really popular, very friendly and down to earth. He’s well-known in Farsley. Everyone is shocked by what’s happened - and it’s the not knowing what’s happened.”
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “We are assisting the family of a British man hospitalised in Sofia, Bulgaria, and are in touch with the local authorities.”
To donate to the fund for Stephn visit: https://www.gofundme.com/steve-speight-medical-costs