Safety alert over escalator at Doncaster shopping centre

Lisa Barrett with her husband Gavin

Lisa Barrett with her husband Gavin

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A disabled woman was dragged the length of an escalator at a Doncaster shopping complex despite frantic attempts to stop it running.

Her horrified husband has urged bosses at the Frenchgate Shopping Centre to take urgent action to improve safety in the wake of the ordeal.

The emergency stop sign and the light it appears to point to on the escalator at Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster

The emergency stop sign and the light it appears to point to on the escalator at Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster

The centre manager at the town centre venue says it is working with the escalator company to revise signage after what happened.

Lisa Barrett’s trousers became caught in the mechanism after she slipped on the escalator on Wednesday afternoon of last week.

The 55-year-old, from Stainforth, escaped with only bruises and mild embarrassment after her trousers were dragged down to her knees.

But her husband Gavin says it was a harrowing experience and could have resulted in serious injury had her hair or skin become trapped .

The actual emergency stop button on the escalator at Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster

The actual emergency stop button on the escalator at Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster

He told how he and several bystanders had tried desperately to halt the machine’s motion by pressing what they believed to be emergency stop buttons at the top and bottom.

He was shocked to discover the ‘buttons’ they were pressing were actually what he called ‘stupidity lights’ indicating the direction of travel.

He said an emergency stop sign appeared to point directly at the ‘lights’, but the stop button was actually located in a position he described as out of sight below.

“We were in total panic. I was thumping what I thought was the stop button at the bottom, and a lady at the top was bashing it with a crutch, and we couldn’t understand why nothing was happening,” he said.

“There must have been at least five or six people trying to press what they all thought was the stop button, because it was the only one on view.

“My wife was terrified at the time and she’s still quite shaken.

“Thankfully she only has a few bruises, but I think this is potentially lethal.”

Mr Barrett, whose wife has a number of disabilities including the condition fibromyalgia, said he was disappointed the signs had still not been changed five days after her traumatic experience.

“It’s abundantly clear the sign needs to be moved. That couldn’t be much simpler to do, and I’m very angry that the shopping centre hasn’t acted immediately,” he said.

Paddy Mellon, general manager of the shopping centre, said it took safety ‘very seriously’ and its escalators were maintained above the required standards.

“The incident has been investigated by our operations manager who has reviewed the sign, light indicator and arrow that is on the escalator,” he said.

He added: “As a result, we are currently working with the escalator company for them to review and revise the signage for the emergency stop system.”