Wednesday 17 January 2018

'Every night in my sleep I hear Solomon scream: Mummy, help'

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

THE mother of a young boy who was killed in a freak lift tragedy earlier this year has spoken about it for the first time – revealing how she struggles to believe her young son is dead.

Omolara Alibi has been unable to sleep since the death of her son Solomon (3) in the tragic incident which saw him crushed in a lift shaft in Galway city on January 12.

The nurse, who had moved to Galway with her four children just weeks before the tragedy, witnessed the incident along with her three daughters Princess (7), Esther (2) and baby Zion.

She told the Irish Independent how the trauma of that day plays in a loop in her head and she wakes at night to sounds of Solomon screaming.

"We were getting in the lift, he got in first and the lift just snapped (shut) and I couldn't get to my son and he was screaming for mummy, he was screaming for me and I couldn't help him. I was running up and down pulling my hair out shouting, 'Somebody help, somebody help, somebody help'.

"I still hear his scream from my sleep every night. I keep hearing what he last said to me, 'Mummy, mummy, mummy, help, help, mummy'. I know I will never be the same, never again," she said.

Omolara, mother of Soloman who died in a lift accident in Co Galway in January. Photo: Mark Condren
Omolara, mother of Soloman who died in a lift accident in Co Galway in January. Photo: Mark Condren
Omolara, mother of Soloman who died in a lift accident in Co Galway in January pictured with her children (from left), Princess (7), Zion (8 months) and Esther (3). Photo: Mark Condren
Omolara Alibi, mother of Solomon, who died in a lift accident in Galway, with her daughter Zion
Solomon who died in a lift accident in Galway

Solomon would have celebrated his fourth birthday this Tuesday. His former preschool in Lucan, west Dublin, will hold an event to honour his memory. However, for his heartbroken mother the grief is too raw to attend.

"I can't mark it. When I think about it I just cry. I've never visited the grave, I'm not able. My son is not dead, he is not dead," she said, breaking down in tears.

Omolara was unable to return to the house she shared with Solomon and she has been forced to live in a women's refuge in the city, sharing one bedroom with her three young daughters.

"I'm just trying to be strong but I'm wounded, I'm torn apart. And it's making matters worse staying in that place. It's temporary accommodation – it's not somewhere we should be for three months. Please God we will leave there soon.

"We've tried to look for houses, most places won't take rent allowance. I thought most counties have emergency accommodation, but I was surprised that Galway city council doesn't seem to," she said.

While she is grateful to the staff in the women's refuge, she is now pleading with the council to help her find a new home for her young family.

"I need a roof over my head so I can start my life again and try for the children. It's hard to rebuild my life and I can't do it where we are now, things are getting worse."

Despite the trauma they have endured, Omolara is determined to remain in Galway with her children, saying simply: "Solomon is in Galway, Solomon is still here. His spirit will forever be alive."

Omolara told how she constantly relives the horror of the day he died, replaying every aspect of it. The family had gone to the Social Welfare Offices in Hynes Building in Galway to leave in a form. As they were leaving the building Solomon got trapped in the lift.

When fire crews gained access, the little boy was discovered in the lift shaft. He had died from crush injuries.

"At that stage he stopped screaming and from a medical point of view, and being a mother with a mother's instinct, I knew," Omolara said.

"My child's blood was dripping from the lift door and I won't forget that until I die."

Solomon's older sister Princess has been traumatised by his death and has been referred to a psychologist.

"Sometimes she talks in her sleep, crying that she wants the lift to bring back her brother."

Recalling her only son, Omolara told of an artistic, intelligent, ever-smiling boy who loved to sing. His favourite song 'This Little Light of Mine' was sung at his funeral.

The grief-stricken mother told how she had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she received following Solomon's death.

"Galway people were very nice. I was overwhelmed by the love I was given," she said.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said it could not discuss individual cases but added that its emergency accommodation was handled on its behalf by voluntary bodies in the city.

Meanwhile, a HSA investigation into the tragedy is expected to be completed within six months. Omolara's solicitor Gerard O'Donnell said tests carried out on the lift by a private engineer for the family have raised a number of questions.

Irish Independent

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