|Tommy Hollis Inquest Opens|
Family seek answers to baby's death outside Chiswick Town Hall
The inquest into the death of Chiswick baby, Tommy Hollis, who died after a lamppost fell onto his buggy outside the Town Hall, opened today (Monday, May 14th) and heard evidence from an engineer working on the site.
Tommy, who died a day before his first birthday, was in his buggy being pushed by his nanny at the time. The force of the impact also knocked out a 62-year-old grandmother standing nearby. Tommy was taken to hospital by helicopter but died two days later.
The accident happened at the site of a road re-widening scheme outside Chiswick Town Hall on the morning of February 23, 2010.
The inquest at West London coroner’s court heard the metal support was mistakenly cut by engineer Kelvin Elmore, who thought it was an old tramline.
Mr Elmore, who worked for contractor McNicholas, was given a written warning by bosses after sawing through the structure as he worked to move Virgin Media cables as part of the road widening scheme.
The engineer, who has 17 years’ experience, immediately admitted to bosses what he had done after hearing of the accident. In a written statement he said he was “utterly devastated” to have had anything to do with the tragedy.
He said: “At the time I thought I was cutting an obsolete piece of steel. I had no idea it was connected to the lamp post. As a father myself I cannot express how horrified I am to have anything to do with the death of a child.
“As I told police, if I could have taken the place of that child then I would have.” Mr Elmore left the courtroom in tears.
The court heard that Mr Elmore, who still works for the company, had been found guilty of gross misconduct at a hearing in 2010.
The company said he had been expected to do a “site specific risk assessment”. However, Mr Elmore said he had “never” filled out such a form, or even been told how to.
He added: “I do not accept anything I did amounted to misconduct. I was surprised and shocked by the way the lamp post had been manipulated to anchor it into the ground.”
Tommy’s mother Kate, 40, a senior legal counsel at GE Capital, and her 42-year-old husband Chris, a pilot, said they wanted “answers”.
Mrs Hollis said: “We don’t want any other family to go through what we have.”
The inquest continues.
May 14, 2012