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At least 12 rescued tourists seek legal advice

10.01.2020 - 12:24
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Þór Ægisson - RÚV
It could take the tourists who got stuck in bad weather during a Langjökull snowmobile tour years to properly recover, says an Australian man who experienced a similar situation on a tour with the same company three years ago.

At least 12 of the 39 in this week’s group have already sought legal advice. The tourists all had to sign a waiver before setting off, saying that they understood the risks of glacier travel.

39 customers and ten staff members on the Mountaineers of Iceland tour were rescued during the storm earlier this week. Many of them feared for their lives and the lives of their children who were also on the tour, and some got frostbite—including children. 

According to Mountaineers of Iceland, nearly all affected customers have been contacted about the ill-fated tour and all have received a full refund. The Icelandic Tourist Board has confirmed the company has submitted a report on what happened and why, and that the Board will spend the next few days going over it in detail. 

Mountaineers of Iceland requires all snowmobile tour customers to sign a waiver acknowledging that glacier travel can be dangerous, and agreeing that the company will only be held responsible for accidents related to faulty equipment or the incorrect use of equipment/carelessness by company staff. 

Reykjavík University law professor Guðmundur Sigurðsson told RÚV yesterday that such waivers protect companies only up to a certain point. They do not mean companies can deflect responsibility if they have been negligent in their operations. Guðmundur says it is clear that the tourists have a case to claim damages and/or compensation.  

Lawyer Lilja Margrét Olsen told RÚV that she is already working with ten people who were on the tour and that she expects to hear from more of them in the coming days. The law firm Norðdahl & Valdimarsson is also working for at least two tour customers. 

David and Gail Wilson, from Australia (pictured above), won their case against the same company after landing in a similar situation three years ago.  

“We seriously couldn’t believe it. We thought that after the court case, when the judge lambasted the company, that they would have thought twice before they would have gone out on something like this. We just couldn’t believe that they’d put tourists at risk again,” David Wilson told RÚV yesterday. 

Both David and Gail are still coming to terms with what happened. David says they think about it all the time and have both needed counselling. 

“We were both diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress. Gail thought she was going to die on the glacier. In her mind there was no doubt. And her coming to terms with it has taken a long, long time.” 

He says that winning the case was a relief for the pair, but that the latest news from Iceland has opened up old wounds again. 

“It’s not just about us either. It’s the 39 tourists, and we feel for them. What we’ve had to deal with, they will be dealing with for the next few years. We feel terribly sorry for them. It just doesn’t go away.” 

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