Northern Irish men in Turkey teeth whitening trip tragedy ‘fell ill after party’

Three friends who fell ill in Turkey during a trip for teeth whitening treatment were partying the night before, it is claimed.

Richard Molloy, 33, collapsed and died, and pals Aaron Callaghan and Declan Carson, a dad-of-two, were left in a coma.

Turkish media claim the men – DJs from north Belfast – became unwell after a party on Friday night, and one went to the building’s manager for help after a member of the group passed out.

Turkish police are understood to have arrested two people.

It is said the men were given “premeds” for their dental treatment and told not to drink alcohol before they were found in a flat they had rented for their trip.

There was no suggestion the medication or treatment was the cause of Mr Molloy’s death or the reason the other two men fell unconscious.

Police were said to be attempting to trace the dentist, as well as looking at a number of possible causes for the men falling ill and losing consciousness.

It is understood two people have been arrested, the Times reported.

The friends had been in Turkey for ten days, and reportedly spent time in the resort of Marmaris before arriving in Bodrum on Thursday.

The men became unwell after a party on Friday night, the Bodrum Olay newspaper reported.

At about 3.30am on Saturday, one of the men went for help and a manager called for an ambulance.

Mr Molloy, also known as Richie, was found “lifeless” inside the flat and pronounced dead.

A post-mortem was taking place to determine the cause of his death.

Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson, both in their 30s, were taken to hospital, where they were in a coma.

Local media reports claim the pair have spoken to police after regaining consciousness.

Both have been taken off life support and are no longer in a life-threatening condition, said Dr Serkan Oncu of Aydin Adnan Menderes University hospital.

A source close to the men told the Irish Daily Mail: “Apparently they were given premeds for their dental treatment and told not to drink alcohol.

“No one knows what happened after that. Richie’s sister (Lydia) is out there with him now trying to bring him home.”

A friend added: “The other possibility I’ve heard is that it was to do with medication for their dental treatment or it was carbon monoxide poisoning.

Before they fell ill, Mr Callaghan, a former player with St James’ Swifts football club, had posted a photo on Friday of the three friends on a boat in Bodrum.

He wrote: “How’s your Friday.”

Members of the men’s devastated families, including Mr Molloy’s sister Lydia and Mr Callaghan’s parents Karen and Mark, have flown to Turkey.

Heartbroken friends have remembered Mr Molloy as a “true gentleman”.

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is helping Mr Molloy’s family to repatriate his body.

Colin Bell, from the charity which was set up in memory of his son who died abroad, said they hoped to bring Mr Molloy’s body home by the end of the week, as long as no further Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in the meantime.

Mr Bell said he understands that Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson are conscious, responding to treatment and feeling better.

Belfast’s Deputy Mayor and North Belfast SDLP councillor Paul McCusker wrote on Facebook that Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson were no longer in intensive care.

The families were being assisted by the UK Foreign Office and Republic of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

Turkey is a popular destination for foreigners seeking cut-price medical and dental treatment.

The Istanbul International Health Tourism Association said up to 700,000 tourists visited for medical procedures in 2017.

The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies predicts that it will attract two million annual health tourists within three years.