Eye trial: ‘Brian disappeared in the fire and I heard him scream – I knew he was dead’


The testimony of Irish citizen Zoe Maria Holohan who was on a honeymoon with her husband is shocking

It was Irish national Zoe Maria Holohan and her husband Brian’s wedding trip to Greece in the summer of 2018. It was Mati that they chose to stay in a villa. The afternoon of July 23 turned into a tragedy of a nightmare described in court today by Ms Holohan, who saw the man she had married four days before fade away, disappearing into the flames that engulfed them.

With the help of a translator, the woman tearfully described what happened that afternoon that forever scarred her life.

“We woke up in the morning, ate our nice breakfast and sat by the pool. We swam and my husband called his mother because it was her birthday. He told her he loved her and that was his last phone call. At noon we went inside to rest. It was very hot. We are from Ireland and we are not used to such temperatures. We made love for the last time and slept,” said the witness, recounting how those moments of happiness turned into horror when, an hour later, the fire was in their garden and they now had to run to save themselves.

“Inside the villa was a car that we had rented. We jumped into the car and tried to open the garage door. It didn’t open. Then we realized that the power had gone out. Brian recalled that the landlady had told us there was a key to open the garage door, but it didn’t work. We spent useful minutes there. We saw that the fire had surrounded us. We realized we had to run… I made him promise me that we would be fine, he promised me that, but he couldn’t keep his promise,” said the witness, crying.

Continuing her testimony, she described how, not knowing where to go, they started running. “There was smoke everywhere, the place was dark. It was very difficult to breathe. Our eyes were burning. We couldn’t see properly and we couldn’t breathe. We ran and went right. We thought the sea was that way. We try to run straight and to the right. We met some women and they looked like they came from the sea. They appeared out of nowhere in the smoke. We were told not to go there. I realized that my dress and legs were on fire, I can’t describe it to you. Brian put out the fire with his hands, but we had to keep running, maybe we went back the way we had come, I don’t know. It was like a hurricane of fire. My hair and clothes were on fire. We got to the road and saw some very small children. Four five. There was no adult. We took them in our arms and started running. Suddenly a car appeared. We stopped it, put the kids in. We realized there was no room for us. I asked the driver to put us in the trunk. The car started running and we feel it was going uphill. The flames kept coming at us, licking us. My hand got stuck in the hood. My whole body was on fire. Brian’s clothes also caught fire. The car suddenly crashed into a tree. The tree fell on us. Brian started screaming and I couldn’t hold his hand. He fell out of the car into the fire. His last word was ‘why’. I tried to yell at him, I wanted him to hear how much I loved him and that he was the best husband. I knew he was dead, he disappeared into the fire and I heard him scream. I was sitting in the trunk and it felt like it was my coffin. I can’t describe the pain. My face began to melt and I sat and waited for my death.”

The witness described how she was rescued by a fireman who “caught me, hugged me and pulled me out of the car. I think he came because he heard me call Brian’s name. He grabbed me, hugged me, took me out and put me through fire. He took me inside what looked like a fire truck. I asked him to go back and get Brian but I don’t think he understood me. The driver started running at high speed and was talking to me to calm me down. I looked at my hands: my skin was starting to come off, it was like a horror movie, I couldn’t see out of one eye. My hair, falling, was stuck to my body.. I realized that the pieces of the dress were still burning. My shoes were on fire. I thought I was boiling. I asked them to take off my clothes. Unfortunately, the woman next to me didn’t understand and started throwing water at me. I told her to cut my clothes. At first he didn’t understand, then he did. The skin came off along with the fabric. I realized that I had been burned all over. I was first so hot and then so cold. I couldn’t control my body. I kept asking them to look for Brian.”

As the witness described, she was put in an ambulance where she faced another situation, another “hell”:

“They took me to the ambulance, the pain was so strong. There were two people and I was begging them to give me something for the pain. They didn’t answer. I was crying. I was screaming and asking for help. I thought I was going to die. They started laughing. I don’t know why they laughed. One who spoke good English told me to “shut up” and I did. I felt like I was going to die anyway. They took me to the hospital, then I realized that there were many people who had been burned. Everywhere everyone was shouting and crying. It smelled like burnt leather. I was there for a long time like others. It was hell. I realized I still had my bag. Someone came up to me and asked me where I was from and I told him I was from Ireland. He said I can help you, I know someone at the Embassy. I asked for painkillers. I think he talked to someone. They knew I had health insurance because I had given it to him. They took me out of the ER, moved me to another floor and I think it was because I had private insurance. They put me in a room with a window. I could see my face. Half the face was blackened and melted. My eye was closed. Now I can see. I was in bed and I was crying. It must have been night. I asked a nurse, something about the pain, she didn’t pay attention to me, I asked her again and she said “I can’t until a doctor comes”. I was sitting and waiting to die. I felt like my whole body was being eaten. I closed my eyes and waited for death. A woman from the Irish embassy came. I recognized her. Turns out we were in college together and studied ancient Greek. That’s why we came here to Greece. It was my dream. I told her everything. That I saw my husband die. I didn’t want to believe it. I begged her to find Brian. He went and found a doctor. He had filled the hospital with people. I understood that the doctors were trying to help them. They had forgotten me because I was behind a curtain,” said the witness who, as she said, was then hospitalized in a private clinic for about a month, where she underwent several surgeries and her eye was saved. In this clinic, she learned about the discovery of Brian’s body, but also about the loss of her father in Ireland, which was another blow for her. “I thought maybe Brian had been saved and was in another hospital. My brother told me he died in the fire,” Ms. Holohan testified.


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