Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Crash survivor killed after 60ft fall at shopping centre

Crash survivor killed after 60ft fall at shopping centre

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The Debenhams store at the St Nicholas Centre in Sutton - PIC: SWNS

A car crash survivor plunged 60 feet to his death inside a shopping centre after he leaned over the railings and fell head first into the atrium below.

John Hart, 45, fell to his death over a fourth floor railing outside a Debenhams store in south London last year.

He was seen by staff member Sarah Brighouse putting a carrier bag over a railing before she saw him fall in “slow motion”.

Croydon Coroner’s Court heard that paramedics struggled in vain for 20 minutes to save Mr Hart’s life on August 9 last year by performing CPR as he lay in a pool of blood.

A post-mortem showed he suffered multiple fractures, including one to his skull and several to his ribs, following the fall inside the St Nicholas Centre in Sutton.

The court also heard that months before his death he had suffered amnesia after a head-on collision with a telegraph pole when he swerved to avoid a pedestrian.

Debenhams worker Sarah said: “He had a carrier bag with him and he was taking it and putting it against the barriers.

“I thought he was going to leave rubbish there and that’s what made me look. I thought it was someone acting strangely. He then just stood up and was looking over the atrium, but many people do that.

“I walked towards him and the next thing I noticed was that he was leaning a long way over the rail and he was leaning forward and had his hands over the barrier.

“It was only then that he just, it was like it was in slow motion, he put his hands out over the railings and fell. I thought ‘he’s going to straighten back up’. Then he was just gone.”

Senior Coroner Selena Lynch then asked: “Did he deliberately put himself over, or did it look like he was reaching for the bag?”

Miss Brighouse replied: “I don’t know, but you thought he would have known that he could not reach the bag.”

Doctor Alan James who treated John after his crash on June 15 last year said his amnesia had improved but the court also heard that he had attempted suicide but not followed through as “he could not leave his children”.

Dr James said: “He was unable to recall memories far back and was unable to remember much of his personal life.

“On June 17 his amnesia had improved and on June 20 a report showed no abnormalities.”

Coroner Lynch, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said: “It seems very clear that this man underwent a complete personality change after he suffered from the accident.

“There is no way he was in charge of himself in any way, shape or form. This was an accidental death.

“We know he jumped from the building in Sutton into the atrium at 4.20pm, but I’m also going to record that he suffered a head injury that altered his behaviour and his memory.”

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Crash survivor killed after 60ft fall at shopping centre