A mother has spoken out about the heart-stopping moment she and her baby were almost crushed to death by a faulty lift.
Terrified Hayley Melling, 27, and her one-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, were locked into the lift shaft at JD Sports in Deepdale, Preston, when the elevator began to descend towards them. She found herself desperately trying to push the lift back up as it powered down to the ground.
Hayley said: “I was standing inside the life looking for a button so we could go up but I couldn’t see one.
“I tried to open the door to ask someone for help but then I heard a noise and realised I was actually stood in the lift shaft and the lift was descending above us.
“I panicked and started banging on the glass panelled door. People inside the lift were even shouting, ‘stop messing around’.
“It felt like an eternity and I realised we were going to die. I turned around to face my daughter with my bank to the strangers as I desperately tried to push the lift back up.”
Hayley had visited the sports store with her partner Andy Fenton, 30, to buy Nevaeh some new shoes. He had gone ahead to the first floor and Hayley chose to use the store’s lift.
Hayley noticed a sign staying “please ask for assistance” and so she went to find a member of staff.
She said: “On doing so, I interrupted a conversation between two young female employees. One was telling the other how hungover she was from the night before.
“I asked for some help using the lift. She used a key to open to lift door. She held the door open so I could push the pram inside and she told me ‘keep my finger on number one and it would take me upstairs’, before she closed the door.”
But seconds later, Hayley, from Blackpool, realised she was locked in and moments from being killed. In sheer panic, she began shouting “I’m trapped, get help”.
Thankfully, Good Samaritans Terry Gargan and Martin Coe took matters into the own hands and began tugging at the door to try and free Hayley and her daughter. Their heroic actions meant Hayley and Nevaeh were able to clamber out of the lift shaft.
“I staggered out of the lift and fell to the floor in shock,” said Hayley. “I was in floods of tears and my daughter was screaming but I couldn’t console her. I was in shock at what had just happened.”
An ambulance was called to the scene, where Hayley and Nevaeh were checked over. Hayley was left suffering back pain. JD Sports was last month hauled before Preston Crown Court where it was heard a safety mechanism meant the door to the lift would not open if it was already in use.
As a result, JD Sports Fashion Ltd were fined £66,667 and ordered to pay £13,896.25 and a £100 surcharge.
Defending the sports retail giants, David Travers said: “The company profoundly regrets the terrifying experience for Miss Melling and has taken this incident very seriously.”
Hayley was paid £6,500 compensation after the incident.
A spokesperson for JD Sports said, “JD Sports pleaded guilty at the first opportunity in a Magistrate’s Court in August 2015 to two breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to an incident at its Deepdale, Preston store in 2012 and has subsequently been fined £67,000 at Preston Crown Court.
“We deeply regret the incident and apologise for the distress caused to the individuals involved. Following the incident, JD Sports undertook a thorough review of its Health & Safety protocols for the operation of lifts to ensure that incidents of this nature should not occur again. JD Sports takes the health and safety of its 9,500 staff and its very many customers at its 890 stores very seriously and continues to work hard to keep them safe at all times.”