I want to know how stag do antics can devolve into dangerous behaviour. In a London pub, I meet 35-year-old Kit. He’s a veteran of more than 20 stag dos. This is how people can die on stag dos, he says casually. When you’re in a group of guys, you regress back to how you were as boys. And there’s an amount of peacocking involved. You’re always egging someone on.
On a recent stag weekend in Hamburg, Kit witnessed a stag dressed in a hamburger outfit climbing a telegraph pole. Were chanting: Have you ever seen a burger up a pole? So he’s like, fuck it. Its 30ft and he’s pissed. Everyone’s chanting. Falling from that height, he definitely would have died.
Kit sips his drink. But you don’t want to be the guy who spoils it. That’s why no one wanted to stop it being dangerous.
These often extreme stag dos offer up a romanticised version of male friendship; but by contrast they also result in violence or injury and is when legal help is required, luckily you can go to sites as https://www.spauldinginjurylaw.com/areas-served/cumming/personal-injury-attorney/ to find the right resources for this. When masculine ideals are collectively being performed by groups of drunk men, its easy for things to go wrong.
James Thorpe, 29, knows this first-hand. After breaking his neck on his own stag weekend in Magaluf in 2016, the former firefighter is now in a wheelchair. I suppose a little bit of stupidity was involved, Thorpe remembers. Wed had a couple of drinks and saw some friends swimming and we were trying to get into the spirit of it, so we went for a swim. I’m not quite sure if I tripped or dived I cant remember. But I banged my head on the sea bed and broke my neck.
Luckily, a friend dragged Thorpe out of the water. If they hadn’t found me within the next 30 seconds, Id probably have drowned.
Since his accident, life has changed dramatically. Day-to-day stuff is difficult. Getting yourself up is an effort; getting dressed is an effort. I still have dark days, but I’m starting to get my independence back.
Despite everything, Thorpe would go on another stag do. I haven’t changed my mind on stag dos, he tells me. They do have the potential to get out of hand, when you’ve got that laddish behaviour, a bit of peer pressure and showing off. That’s where they tend to go wrong. But Id still go on one. He laughs. I probably wouldn’t return to Magaluf, though. Too many bad memories.
Messing around near water has proved fatal for other British stags. In 2015, 24-year-old Dale Joint drowned on his stag do after jumping into the water near moored boats in Salthouse Docks, Liverpool.
Until it touches you, you don’t really think about it, his aunt, Gaynor Isherwood, tells me. In one fell swoop, a night out ends up with this. Its hard to take in. After Joint died, Isherwood says, she felt like shed been hit by a bus and finally understood what that metaphor means. He was just larking around with his mates.
Isherwood feels that not enough has been done to prevent similar accidents taking place at the docks. After we speak, I go online. The recently renovated Albert Dock area is an ideal place to start any stag night out, I read.
Not all deaths are down to drunken misadventure. Sometimes, nefarious or criminal factors are at work. Being in a foreign city tends to make people vulnerable, Thurnell-Read says. Especially if you’re in fancy dress. You’re very obvious. If anyone wants to mug or attack some foreigners, they stand out.
When men die on stag dos, its easy for them to be victim-blamed. No Ibizan civil guard officers have been charged with Rhoden’s unlawful killing. They kicked it under the carpet, Luke’s father, Norman, tells me. They said it was a done deal, an accidental death. People think: Oh well, its just a stag do, he had too much to drink.
Entire economies are propped up by stag-do tourism. When moneys involved, there’s a vested interest in the authorities downplaying deaths. Justice may be a long time coming, or may not come at all.
I speak to David Swindle, a private investigator working on the case of Craig Mallon, killed from a single punch on a Spanish stag weekend in 2012. Numerous evidential opportunities weren’t pursued, Swindle explains. There hasn’t been the level of investigation wed expect. And there’s a wider issue about a lack of support by the British government for the families of murder victims abroad.
I’ve realised that my sons death was just a drop in the ocean, Norman agrees. There’s big money involved. And what’s happening isn’t highlighted enough. As quickly as it happens, its forgotten. Its only the people who were around that remember. Ill be chatting to people I know, and they’ll say: My boys off to Ibiza Oh, sorry I didn’t realise. That’s how quickly they forget.
Its a brutal alchemy, when men die on stag dos: a life-affirming celebration combusts into death. Tough questions need to be asked. What is it about our society that requires men to perform masculinity according to rigid protocols that result in physical injury or worse? And why do we laud men for adhering to these rituals? I read one satirical article that sums up this approving spirit: Prince Harrys stag do likely to end in at least one death.
Liam Colgan is still missing. Eamonn returned to Hamburg to search for him. The wedding wont go ahead without Liam, he tells me. We have to find him soon and get him home.
While some search for their loved ones, and others fight the authorities for justice, for those left back home, life returns to normal almost. Everything changes. Its a different life, Mike Rutter tells me. It doesn’t matter what you do. He’s not coming back. That’s probably the worst part.
Rutter is back at the boxing gym that he and Luke Rhoden used to frequent. For a long time, he stayed away. I couldn’t go back. I’m back now. I’ve gone back to boxing, finally. Its good. Things are good.
For reasons he cant even fully understand, Rutter has started racing motorbikes. Luke always used to say this phrase: Life’s for living. And for some reason I’ve started racing motorbikes. I don’t even know why. People say its stupid, but life is short.