Tunisia attack: British victim shot in face and unable to speak writes heartbreaking letter asking for dead husband’s wedding ring

geena van dort Capture

Tragic: Gina van Dort with her husband Chris Dyer

A Brit shot in the face as she fled a crazed gunman is begging for the return of her wedding ring after she was discovered clinging to the body of her dying husband.

Gina Van Dort was unable to speak after gunman Seifeddine Rezgui calmly walked through a Tunisian hotel killing British tourists.

The 30-year-old was struck by a bullet under her chin which then exited her eye. A bullet also shattered her femur in the attack.

When paramedics arrived they found Gina, 30, sobbing and hugging her dying husband, refusing to let him go.

Because of her injuries, her beloved wedding ring had to be removed during the effort to identify her because her face was severely wounded and she was unable to speak.

Chris Dyer, 32, from Watford, who was shot dead in Sousse. He is pictured with his wife, Gina Van Dort, 30, who was shot through the face and received shrapnel injuries

Loss: Chris Dyer, 32, with his wife, Gina Van Dort, 30

She was among the last four British victims due to be evacuated from Tunisia in a large-scale RAF mercy mission.

Medics treating Gina said her husband, Chris Dyer, had been killed in the attack, but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office refused to comment.

Gina Van Dort

Desperation: Gina was found clinging to the body of her dead husband on the beach

But Dr Hajer Kraiem – one of the first paramedics on the scene – wept as she told how Gina’s face had been mutilated by a bullet.

She re-lived the scenes of devastations she encountered at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel.

She said: “Her husband was dead. I went to the hotel and there were three victims dead and the I saw Gina, she was hugging her husband.

Gina Van Dort

Plea: Gina Van Dort has written a note pleading for the return of her wedding ring

“She didn’t want to leave him. When we tried to bring her [to the ambulance] she held tighter. Maybe she didn’t know he was dead.

“She had major facial trauma and she couldn’t speak.”

Gina, a quantity surveyor, from Watford, Herts, underwent life-saving surgery after the attack, with medics carrying out intricate facial reconstruction.

She has lost her left eye and is unable to talk after undergoing a tracheotomy.

Dr Hajer made a heartbreaking visit to her bedside yesterday, where Gina begged for the return of her wedding ring.

In a touching tribute, Gina wrote a thank you note.

Dr Hajer said: “She said thank you, held my hand, and said thank you. She was very strong.

“It was important for me to go see her, because I didn’t want that to be my memory of her. It’s very difficult to forget.”

Gina Van Dort

Gina Van Dort: The victim lost her husband following the attack on the Imperial Marhaba hotel

Gina was due last night to make a 10-minute drive from the Sahloul Hospital to the nearby Monister Airport by ambulance, before boarding a C17 Globemaster.

Fellow Brit Cheryl Mellor, 55, from Cornwall, who lost her husband, Stephen, 59, in the attack, was also expected to be airlifted back to the UK.

Meanwhile critically wounded Allison Heathcote – who remains in a medically induced coma – was being comforted at her hospital bed after her son and brother jetted out to Tunisia.

Brother Jonty Boon, 39, flew out on Monday to be by her side at the private Essalem Clinic with Allison’s distraught son James.

Jonty, 39, said: “She’s stable, she’s had major surgery to her upper arm and abdomen.

“I’m massively relieved, we were told that she had lost a kidney and she wasn’t going to make it. Then to get here and the relief, to actually find out she’s very seriously injured but not the extent we first believed, she’s not lost any major organs or anything like that.

“We’re hoping she will pull through, nothing is a 100%, but we’re hoping.

“She’s in the best possible place, the facilities are fantastic, they have been brilliant and so hopefully fingers crossed she will pull through.

Gina Van Dort

Terror attack: Injured holiday makers leave Sahloul Hospital in Sousse, Tunisia to be transported on an RAF flight back to the UK

“If anybody can, she can, she’s the strongest person I know.

“We’ll be here until everything sorted. James is holding on.”

She remains in a critical but stable condition in a medically induced coma after being hit in the stomach repeatedly by a barrage of gunfire during Friday’s beach massacre.

British medics in Tunisia were last night deciding if she was stable enough to make the trip back to the UK. John Metcalf, 43, from Hazlemere, Bucks, was also expected to return to the UK after he was shot in the stomach.

Up to 30 Brits are thought to have been slaughtered in Friday’s brutal attack, with the official figure now standing at 18.

Paramedics revealed they were held outside the complex for an agonising 10 minutes as armed snipers brought Rezgui’s reign of terror to an end.

And when they finally gained access to the hotel garden they discovered a scene of utter devastation, with bodies strewn around the hotel.

Meanwhile details of further casualties continued to trickle through last night.

Flowers and a poignant tribute to slain Brits Denis and Elaine Thwaites were placed at the massacre scene visited by Theresa May yesterday.

Gina Van Dort

Fighting for life: A casualty from the attack at the Imperial Marhaba hotel, where 38 people were killed, is taken from Sahloul hospital with British medics

It showed Denis, 70, alongside Elaine, 69, by a bouquet of flowers.

The retired couple, of Blackpool, Lancs, arrived in Sousse on Wednesday.

In a heart-rending message, their daughter Lindsey and son-in-law Danny wrote: “You are our world. I loved you so very much. Rest in peace mum and dad.”

Former Birmingham City FC teen prodigy Denis sent a text to say they had arrived safely on Wednesday.

But their family did not hear from them after Kalashnikov-wielding Tunisian student Rezgui, 23, targeted Western tourists on the beach.

Winger Denis, who broke into the first team aged just 16, and Elaine were reported on Saturday to be recovering in hospital following the horror attack.

But, their family later said they had been misinformed. Their son-in-law Daniel Clifford, of Blackpool, said: “We were told by a Thomson rep through a friend that they were injured in hospital but this turned out not to be true.”

Seifeddine Rezgui

Gunman: Seifeddine Rezgui

Stuart Cullen, 52, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, was also confirmed among the dead. He was with his wife – who was injured but has now returned home – when he was gunned down.

The landlord and landlady of Mr Cullen’s local pub yesterday said they were struggling to come to terms with his violent death.

Mr Cullen often helped the couple with odd jobs at the King Alfred pub in Lowestoft, Suffolk, near his home.

His wife Christine is understood to have worked for many years as a travel agent for Thomas Cook.

The couple decided to jet off to Tunisia for a holiday having recently celebrated Christine’s 50th birthday in Spain. They arrived in Tunisia just hours before the massacre.

Landlords Mark and Maxine Richards said Mr Cullen was a “real character” and his death has left a hole in the community.

Mark, 50, said: “We knew him well he would come here every week. I know everyone says this but he was really was one of the good guys.

“He really would do anything for anyone. He made up the sign outside the pub for us and helped cover the chairs in the bar.

“He had a bad knee for many years so he hasn’t been able to work for a long time.

“The funny thing is he literally only had an operation on it at the end of last year and it was a bit better since then.

“Only last weekend he was in here and now he’s gone.


“We had a friend who died in the tsunami and that was awful but at least it was a natural disaster that couldn’t be helped. But this is just so hard to come to terms with.”

The couple, who have run the pub for the last eight years, say the family have been regulars since they took over.

Mark said the couple’s daughter Emma-Jayne has worked in the production department of TV shows including Birds Of A Feather.

He added: “Emma was one thing I know Stuart was very proud of. She was a real daddy’s girl.”

Maxine, 57, added: “He was a very popular guy, he had lots of friends down here. There’s going to be a big hole here now.

“He was always laughing and joking. Everyone here is so shocked, it’s just unreal.

“When it’s one of your own it really brings it home. He was a real character we used to have banter all the time.”

The couple previously lived in Woodbridge, Suffolk, before moving to Lowestoft.

Tunisian gunman Seifeddine Rezgui

Killer: Tunisian gunman Seifeddine Rezgui who slaughtered British tourists on the beach

Mark said Mr Cullen didn’t work due to a disability but had previously worked as a prison guard in Woodbridge and worked offshore for a while.

Elsewhere former Premier League stars and referees paid tribute to three members of a football-mad family.

Walsall FC fans Adrian Evans, 44, died along with his father, 78-year-old Patrick Evans, both from Tipton, West Mids., and nephew Joel Richards, 19.

Joel’s 16-year-old brother Owen survived the attack and even risked his own life to help injured holidaymakers.

The family’s favourite football club Walsall FC became a focal point for people’s grief with dozens of scarves and shirts laid at the gates of Bescott Stadium.

Joel, from Wednesbury, West Mids., was a promising FA referee who oversaw matches across the Midlands and was tipped for future stardom.

Premier League referee Michael Oliver, 30, donated £50 towards tragic Joel Richards’ memory fund which has been set up in his honour.

An RAF Hercules C17 military transport aircraft waits on the tarmac at the Habib Bourguiba International airport in Monastir, south of the Sousse, to transport British citizens injured in the deadly shooting attack

Returning home: An RAF Hercules C17 military transport aircraft waits on the tarmac at the Habib Bourguiba International airport in Monastir, south of the Sousse, to transport British citizens injured in the deadly shooting attack

He wrote on the fundraising website: “Our thoughts are with Joel’s friends and family. RIP x Lucy & Michael Oliver.”

Former Aston Villa stars Tony Daley, Nigel Spink and Shaun Teale have all joined a Facebook group called Owen Richards Fund Tunisian Attack in support of the family.

Tributes and donations from fellow professional referees poured in.

Experienced Football League referees Geoff Eltringham and Oliver Langford donated £20 each to the memory fund.

Mr Langford, from West Midlands, wrote: “The world can be a very cruel place and leave you asking why. X”

Meanwhile dozens of supporters of various football clubs gathered at Walsall FC’s Banks’s Stadium to pay their respects to season ticket-holders Joel and his uncle Adrian.

Tributes to the three men placed outside Walsall FC’s main entrance included scarves and shirts from West Ham, Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury Town.

A scarf representing German side Hannover 96 was also left at the stadium alongside flowers bearing messages of condolence.

sources: Daily Mirror/ YouTube


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