Parents’ heartache after teenager falls to his death at Canary Wharf building site
PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 July 2018
The parents of a 19-year-old who fell to his death from an office building site in Canary Wharf have spoken of their heartache.
Student Samuel Clarke left a New Year’s Eve party at The O2 Arena last year but ended up getting into the One Bank Street construction site in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Security guards confronted Samuel but he disappeared inside. Guards searched the area after CCTV showed no signs of him leaving, but he went undetected. The police were not called. His body was discovered a day later.
Parents Alan and Charlotte Clarke said: “We were devastated at the news of Sam’s death. We could not understand how he gained access to the site, why he was not escorted off and why he had not been discovered until the next day.
“We feel very strongly that Samuel was let down by those in control of the construction site and we miss him very much. We hope that no other family will have to go through our ordeal.”
Mr and Mrs Clarke felt the guards never looked for their son properly and alleged they were looking at computer screens instead of looking after Samuel.
St Pancras assistant coroner Sarah Bourke at an inquest in June concluded Samuel’s death resulted from an accidental fall “from height” which happened at about 2.30am on New Year’s Day.
On Tuesday, senior coroner Mary Hassell issued a prevention of future deaths report over safety concerns.
The report has been sent to Sir George Iacobescu chairman of developer Canary Wharf Group, behind building the 27-storey block.
It reveals Samuel was not killed by the fall’s impact and if he was found earlier his life could have been saved.
The coroner noted a 30cm gap at the base of a turnstile entrance was reduced by 5cm after Samuel’s death.
Ms Hassell said: “I am concerned that the turnstile is still accessible to unauthorised personnel – including children.”
She noted security staff are now told to call police if an intruder is unfound.
But she said there was no plan in place to call in staff familiar with the site to help with a future search.
Matthew Claxson from law firm Moore Blatch, acting for the family at the inquest, said: “The report is a serious step for the coroner to have taken and one can only hope it will help to avoid this happening again.”
Canary Wharf Group declined to comment.