Community pays respects at vigil marking first anniversary of Bow crane tragedy

Neighbours joined by safety campaigners in Compton Close at vigil for Joan Harvey

Neighbours joined by safety campaigners in Compton Close at vigil for June Harvey - Credit: Mike Brooke

A vigil has been held marking the anniversary of 85-year-old June Harvey’s tragic death when a 60ft crane crashed onto her home. 

Neighbours and others paying their respects stood silently and laid floral tributes on July 8 at the spot where June’s house once stood in Compton Close, next to the Watts Grove building site in Bromley-by-Bow. 

Justice for June Harvey... campaigners call for tough building site regulations

Construction safety campaigners attended the vigil for June Harvey. - Credit: Mike Brooke

June was trapped in her upstairs bedroom of the home she shared with relatives when the crane smashed through the roof. 

Her great-nephew Sam Atkinson, who was downstairs, desperately tried to get through the rubble to reach her. 

Supporting hand from lawyer Helen Clifford for Sam delivering his speech to vigil for his great aunt

A supporting hand from lawyer Helen Clifford for Sam Atkinson as he delivers his speech to the vigil for his great aunt June. - Credit: Mike Brooke

“Two or three minutes of an incident can change your whole life,” he said.


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“I struggle to sleep even now and have constant nightmares and wake up so many times during the night thinking something’s falling on me. I have anxiety and panic attacks.” 

Sam grew up in the house from the age of two, where his great-aunt and his mum Jacqueline had lived since 1992. 

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All his life savings he said have gone living in temporary accommodation in the past 12 months. He spoke tearfully in a speech after a minute’s silence for June. 

Sam told the small crowd, including campaigners fighting for better construction site safety, about the trauma the family have gone through. 

“We’re not living in a time where cranes should just fall out of the sky and kill people in their own homes,” he said. "I will fight for justice for June Harvey.” 

Sam lays floral tribute to his great-aunt killed in crane tragedy in Compton Close

Sam lays a floral tribute to his great-aunt June killed in crane tragedy in Compton Close - Credit: Mike Brooke

Sam, 29, said he learned this week that he is being made redundant from his job as a qualified chef for a Canary Wharf financial institution.

He said he has no more savings after making the temporary accommodation he and his mum were given in Limehouse more habitable.

His lawyer Helen Clifford has also been critical of what she feels is a lack of funds to get the families of Compton Close proper counselling and treatment for their life-changing trauma.

The lawyer is backing the families who are calling for the joint investigation by the Met Police and the Health and Safety Executive to speed up and for action by the Crown Prosecution Service.    
The investigation is concentrating on why the foundations of the huge crane failed to keep it stable. 
The HSE said in a statement to the East London Advertiser: “Analysis of the crane foundations was a significant engineering challenge. Progress has been made over the past 12 months in a thorough investigation with enquiries still ongoing.”
They are hoping to reach a conclusion by the end of the year. Their spokesman added: “We understand this is a difficult time for the family with the anniversary and we remain committed to bringing this investigation to a conclusion as soon as possible.”

June Harvey... died at 85 when 60ft crane came crashing through her home 

June Harvey... died at 85 when 60ft crane came crashing through her home - Credit: Atkinson family

The vigil for June was organised by Families Against Corporate Killers and the Construction Safety Campaign for tougher crane operating legislation.   

Floral tribute from Sam and Jaqueline Atkinson to June Harvey, 1935-2020

Floral tribute from Sam and Jaqueline Atkinson to June Harvey, 1935-2020 - Credit: Mike Brooke

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