Tuesday 26 September 2017

'It was like a horror movie' - Family's terror after hotel lift plunged through four floors

Killarney Plaza Hotel (Stock photo)
Killarney Plaza Hotel (Stock photo)

Anne Lucey

A hotel lift carrying five family members suffered a "catastrophic failure" crashing through four floors, a court heard.

The horror accident left the passengers, who were staying in the Killarney Plaza Hotel while attending a wedding, with serious injuries.

It was 15 minutes before staff at the hotel realised the lift was wedged into the basement and the doors had to be prised open.

The injured parties had to wait an hour before ambulances arrived.

The five guests were dressed in their wedding attire and one of them had to be cut out of the lift.

The incident occurred in July 2011. The company that installed the Daldoss Easylife Lift at the Killarney Plaza Hotel seven years previously, has gone on trial at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court without making an appearance.

Ellickson Engineering Ltd, of Kilmurry, Waterford is being tried for breach of the safety, health and welfare at work acts around April 2004.

When Ellickson failed to send a representative to court, the matter proceeded "as though the company had entered a plea of not guilty", said prosecutor Tom Rice, for the DPP.

The matter had been investigated by the Health and Safety Authority.

In July 2011, the Meehan family, from Co Meath, were staying at the hotel while attending a wedding party.

The three Meehan brothers and two of their wives had got into the lift on the top floor of the hotel.

The lift, which could accommodate six people, collapsed to the bottom shafts in the underground car park.

After the wedding ceremony, the family had returned to the Plaza Hotel to get something to eat.

They then planned on making their way to the wedding reception at the Muckross Park Hotel.

When the lift doors closed, they knew something was wrong when they heard cables straining.

"The next thing there was a bang and we were gone," said Andrew Meehan, who is originally from Dublin and now lives in Co Meath.

Mr Meehan suffered convoluted fractures to his left tibia, a broken right tibia and crushed right heel.

His wife's dislocated bone was clearly visible, pressing through the skin.

He had to undergo 11 hours of surgery, was transferred to a walking frame and afterwards he was on crutches.

Kevin Meehan suffered broken vertebrae in his back and a fractured left ankle and right heel.

The lift fell at 2pm and the injured were taken out of the hotel at 5pm.

Paul Meehan, a garda, said it was like "living in a horror movie".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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