A GRANDMOTHER has claimed her four-year-old grandson ‘was a few steps from oblivion’ after he wandered near an open hatch during an evacuation of the Spinnaker Tower.
Ann Casey from Copnor was at the 170-metre landmark with her family when the viewing platforms were evacuated at 1pm on Sunday due to a faulty alarm sensor.
I just could not believe that my grandson was just a few steps away from oblivionAnn Casey, Copnor
Mrs Casey took the stairs from the first viewing platform, where walking down, she found one of the hatches wide open.
Her grandson, who she did not wish to name, moved towards the two-foot wide gap, only to be pulled away by his grandmother, preventing him from potentially plunging from a height of more than 100 metres.
She said: ‘As we came down the stairs, the hatch was still open and there was no-one around to stop anyone going out of it.
‘It was terrifying. I just could not believe that my grandson was just a few steps away from oblivion.
‘I had to reach out and stop him as he made a movement towards the gap.’
A spokeswoman for the tower said that the hatch was open to allow access to the abseiling platform as groups were abseiling down the tower during the day.
Mrs Casey added: ‘When I got home, I realised how awful it was.
‘It’s shocking. The idea that my grandson or anyone’s child could have gone out that hatch and fallen from that height is a horrendous thought to bear.’
A spokeswoman for the tower said that a rope was in place to stop people from going near the hatch and that staff were on hand in the stairwell to prevent access to it.
But Mrs Casey claims the hatch was unguarded during the evacuation and that a rope would not have prevented anyone from going through the gap.
She added: ‘Even if there was a rope, that’s not going to stop a child from getting out.
‘The thing about children is they see an open door and they just go for it. It was so dangerous.’
Sarah Webb, general manager for the tower said: ‘Emirates Spinnaker Tower was fully evacuated following a fire alarm which has been attributed to a faulty alarm sensor on our ground floor.
‘Approximately 100 guests were evacuated from the view decks.
‘Staff employed their fire safety training to swiftly and safely evacuate guests with 20 per cent electing to use the stairs to reach the ground floor.
‘As it was an abseiling day at the tower, a hatch was open to allow access to our abseiling platform.
‘It was blocked with a rope barrier to deter guests and tower staff were on hand in their stairwell to guide guests during the evacuation.
‘Following guest feedback raised by The News, we would like to reassure guests that our fire evacuation procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure the safety of all our visitors.’