Friends describe fatal lift shaft fall

2010-07-19 10:01

Cape Town - Shocked friends and family have described how a young man fell to his death in a freak accident when he climbed out of a stuck lift in order to get help.

Leigh Kenton Roomes, 26, from Chanteclair in Eversdal and friends became trapped in the lift in the city centre at about 22:00 on Saturday.

Roomes, an electrical engineer with Foschini, met a group of friends in the Hip Hop Plaza apartment building in Roeland Street. He was in the lift with two men and two women when it became stuck about 30cm before the third storey.

They were heading for a night out in Observatory.

Forced lift open

According to one of the friends, Steven Radisic, who had decided to take the stairs, Roomes forced the lift open with his hands.

He tried to climb to the third storey, but lost his balance and fell into the space between the lift and wall of the lift shaft. When Radisic came to the parking area and found no one there, he suspected trouble.

He heard the lift's emergency bell as well as knocking against the walls.

When he got to the third storey, he could hear Leigh groaning metres below on the ground floor, where the lift had come to a standstill.

"Someone gave me a torch and I could see him lying there. He didn't move."

Meanwhile Radisic had to hold the lift's doors open with his hands and every time someone wanted to use it, he shouted to them to use the stairs.

Multiple fractures

Lauren Copley from Netcare 911 emergency services said the jaws of life had to be used to force open the lift doors on the ground floor to reach the injured man.

Roomes was taken to the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital where he died at about 23:30 as a result of a skull fracture, lung injuries and arm and leg fractures.

His father, Stephen Roomes, was still deeply shocked about his son's death on Sunday. "He had so many good leadership qualities and was always busy looking after others. You never think something like this will happen to your child."

Radisic said Roomes was a wonderful friend.

"He was a bit older than the rest of the friends in our circle and always ready to give advice. He was like a father figure for all of us."

Martin Langemann from the Kone lift company in Cape Town, which installed the lift, said a lift was not supposed to open when someone forced it open with his hands.

"We can't comment before the matter has been investigated."

Roomes was survived by his father, his mother, Cathy Roomes, and sister Jen Roomes, 28.