Friday, July 20, 2007

Six year old dies in tragic stairlift accident

This terrible story highlights the importance of using professionals when having a stairlift installed. Although it may cost a little more, an experienced stairlift engineer would never make this type of mistake when installing a stairlift. Certain manufacturers are encouraging the sale of self-install stairlifts, particularly in the US, in my opinion it is just not worth the risk.

SIX-year-old dies in tragic stairlift accident - inquest
Oliver Mapp

A SIX-YEAR-OLD Bolton-le-Sands boy killed in a stairlift accident at his great-grandmother's home would not have died if it was correctly installed, an inquest heard.

Oliver Mapp was playing on the lift on January 28 when he fell and his head became trapped between its footplate and the stair tread. The lift continued to rise up the stairs and Oliver's grandad Robert, who struggled to save him, was unable to stop it, he told Tuesday's inquest.

His grandparents Robert and Pauline had been taking him to visit his great-grandmother Eileen Meeson at her home in Oakengates, Telford, to wish her happy birthday. Michael Gwynne, Telford and Wrekin coroner, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

James Rennie, a consultant forensic engineer, told the court that some safety devices in the lift were not working correctly. Oliver's uncle Stefan Wood, from Telford, told how he had moved the lift from a house without the help of a professional or a manual. Mr Rennie said, because it was installed on the right side of the stairs rather than the left as it had been previously, its obstruction contactor trips were not working. This meant that when Oliver's head was pressing against the trips it would not reverse and free him.

Coroner Mr Gwynne said: "It was those safety devices which failed so far as Oliver was concerned. If they had been in place and working we wouldn't be here today." Mr Rennie also told the inquest children should not be allowed to play on stairlifts. "Stairlifts should be installed by somebody who knows what they are doing," he said. Doctor Edmund Tapp, consultant pathologist, told the inquest Oliver had become unconscious, gone into cardiac arrest and died immediately, although he was not recorded dead until later in hospital.

His cause of death was a head injury which had fractured his skull. Oliver's dad Darren, a retained firefighter at Bolton-le-Sands fire station, and mum Louise, a nurse, travelled down to Shropshire after the accident and were being comforted by other family members in the Telford area. Louise told the inquest he was a "happy and lovely boy". Oliver was a pupil of Bolton-le-Sands CE Primary School.