Turkey teeth whitening tragedy: Friend of Briton who died speaks out

Friend of British man who died during their trip to Turkey for teeth whitening says he is ‘absolutely gutted’ and praying for the family of ‘Big Richie’

  • Aaron Callaghan fell into a coma while in Turkey for teeth whitening treatment
  • Friend Richie Molloy, 33, died, while second Declan Carson also went into coma  
  • Callaghan has now spoken out, saying he and Carson are ‘safe’ after treatment 
  • Said he is ‘absolutely gutted’ by the death of Mr Molloy, who he called ‘Big Richie’
  • It is not yet clear what caused the three men to fall unconscious, as sources say they had been given ‘premeds’ ahead of the dental work 

A British man who fell into a coma as his friend died during a trip to Turkey to get teeth whitening treatment has spoken out for the first time about the ordeal.

Aaron Callaghan, from Belfast, said he is ‘absolutely gutted’ over the death of ‘Big Richie’ Molloy, 33, in the resort of Maramis on Saturday.

Describing the death as ‘tragic’, he branded Mr Molloy an ‘absolute gentleman’ while passing along ‘thoughts and prayers’ to his family. 

He also revealed that he is ‘safe and back up on [my] feet’ alongside friend Declan Carson, who had also been left in a coma while awaiting the dental procedure. 

Aaron Callaghan (left), from Belfast, has spoken out for the first time after he and friend Declan Carson (centre) were left in a coma as Richie Molloy (right) died during a trip to Turkey

Mr Callaghan (right) said that he and Mr Carson (left) are now ‘safe and on our feet’ following a bout in intensive care, adding that he is ‘absolutely gutted’ by the death of Mr Molloy (centre)

Posting on Facebook, Mr Callaghan passed along ‘thoughts and prayers’ to Mr Molloy’s family, while describing him as an ‘absolute gentleman’

It is not yet clear what caused the trio to fall unconscious, and a post-mortem examination is now underway on Mr Molloy.

A source close to the family said the trio had been given ‘premed treatment’ ahead of the dental work, and warned not to drink alcohol.

Reports in Turkish media suggested that the men had been out partying before the tragedy occurred.

However, one of Mr Molloy’s friends slammed ‘hurtful’ reports that linked Mr Molloy’s death to recreational drugs. 

‘There’s no evidence for that as far as I know,’ he said. 

After returning to their apartment in Bodrum, one of the men had asked for help from their hotel manager, telling him that his friend had lost consciousness due to drugs, Turkish newspaper Sözcü reported. 

An ambulance was called at 3.30am and the men were rushed to hospital.    

Turkish police are understood to have arrested two people, according to the Bodrum Olay newspaper.

Richie Molloy (centre left) and Declan Carson (centre right) with two unknown friends. The pair both fell ill at their hotel apartment in Bodrum – Molloy was found dead on Saturday

The police were yesterday reported to have been trying to track down the dentist who treated the ‘three fit and healthy young lads.’

Anaesthesia is not required for a teeth whitening procedure, which is carried out by applying chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide, to the teeth.

Some of these chemicals could potentially be toxic if a lot of them were swallowed, nonetheless, a fatality from a teeth whitening procedure is virtually unheard of. 

Members of all three of the men’s families arrived at Milas Bodrum Airport over the weekend including Mr Molloy’s sister Lydia and Mr Callaghan’s parents, Mark and Karen.

Mr Carson, a father-of-two, and Mr Callaghan were believed to have been put into induced comas but have now been taken off life-support machines. 

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is assisting the Molloys in bringing Richie home.

Colin Bell told the Irish News: ‘It’s a very difficult situation. The young fellow died out in Turkey after travelling with his two friends.

‘I understand they had been travelling out for dental treatment, we don’t know how it happened but it ended up with Richard dying and the other two lads being seriously ill.’

He added: ‘At this stage his sister has flown out and she’s been put in touch with the funeral company who are looking after Richard’s repatriation.’

The three men from Belfast had visited the Marmaris resort before travelling on to their apartment in Bodrum. Pictured: Declan Carson (left), Aaron Callaghan (right) and Richard Molloy (rear) in Turkey on Friday 

Bell told The Belfast Telegraph: ‘I have been in contact with Mr Molloy’s sister, Lydia, who was due to meet with the undertaker later today. She seems very strong and has travelled out there to do a job. 

‘The repatriation will take about four or five days as Richie’s body will have to be released to the undertaker, hopefully later today or tomorrow.

‘Preparations will then have to be made to fly him home and all the various papers signed too.’

Mr Bell added that Mr Carson and Mr Callaghan ‘out of danger and conscious.’

‘I understand that they are off their life support machines and talking so that’s a good sign,’ Mr Bell said.

North Belfast Sinn Fein MP John Finucane, who has spoken to the three families, said the ‘absolutely heartbreaking’ tragedy had affected ‘three fit and healthy young lads’.

He said: ‘The community of North Belfast will rally around the families of those affected and do all that we can to provide support to them at this time of great difficulty.

‘I will be making immediate contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs to request all the necessary support be urgently put in place to assist the families.’ 

He said Mr Carson and Mr Callaghan’s families were going out to Turkey ‘desperately wanting to bring their children back’.

He told the BBC: ‘The families I have spoken to are grateful for the support but also need space and privacy and this includes people being responsible on social media.

‘There is a family here making arrangements to bring their brother, their son, home and there are two other families just hoping their loved one will pull through.

‘So it’s a very difficult but we don’t have much clarity at this stage as to what exactly has happened.’ 

It remains unclear what caused the Mr Molloy’s (left) death but it is understood the three men were in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure


A salon in Belfast has paid tribute to Richie on its Facebook page.

Simon Flannery Male Grooming said: ‘We received heart breaking news over the weekend that one of our clients of over a decade, Richie Molloy, has passed away while on holiday in Turkey. 

‘Richie was a true gentlemen and always brought a smile and laughter to the salon. Everyone who works and has worked in the shop and met Richie will miss his dearly.

‘Our thoughts are with Richie’s family and friends.’

The SDLP deputy mayor of Belfast Paul McCusker, described the tragedy as ‘worrying and devastating’. 

He said: ‘Worrying and devastating news coming from Turkey regarding three local North Belfast men. 

It remains unclear what caused Mr Molloy’s death but it is understood he was in Turkey for a teeth whitening procedure. Pictured: Turunc Bay in Marmaris

‘At this stage we know one male has died and two others are critical. As a North Belfast community all our thoughts and prayers are with you all including the familes.’

Aaron Callaghan, one of the men still in hospital, is a former player for St James’ Swifts Football Club.

The club’s Twitter page wrote: ‘Our thoughts and prayers go out to former first team player Aaron Callaghan today.

‘Everyone at the club are thinking of you during this time and we have both you (and) your friends within our hearts.’

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Turkey and we are in contact with the Turkish authorities.’

The Irish Government said: ‘We are aware of the case and are providing consular assistance.’ 

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