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South Lakes Wild Animal Park Sarah McClay inquest

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Nisha, 15 Sep 2014.

  1. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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  2. bigcat speciali

    bigcat speciali Well-Known Member

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  3. bigcat speciali

    bigcat speciali Well-Known Member

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    https://uk.news.yahoo.com/inquest-tiger-worker-death-015052579.html#ZS4DL0N

    A woman mauled to death by a tiger at the wildlife park where she worked was doing her "dream job", her mother has told an inquest.
    Sarah McClay, 24, suffered multiple injuries when she was attacked at South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, on May 24 last year.
    Miss McClay, from Barrow-in-Furness, was going about her routine duties in the big cat enclosure at the park when she came into contact with a male Sumatran tiger.
    She was taken by air ambulance to Royal Preston Hospital but later died from her injuries.
    Police said at the time of her death that the enclosure concerned consisted of a number of indoor and outdoor compartments connected by lockable doors. Keepers were required to enter various parts of the enclosure in the course of their routine duties.
    However, systems were said to be in place to ensure that animals and keepers remained apart at all times.
    Speaking on the first day of the inquest, which is being held in front of a jury, Fiona McClay, from Linlithgow,West Lothian, told the hearing in Kendal that her daughter was "a meticulous person to the extreme" who was "settled in her life".
    She said Miss McClay had worked as an animal carer at the park for approximately three years.
    South Cumbria Coroner Ian Smith asked her what her daughter's attitude was to her occupation.
    Mrs McClay replied: "It was a dream job ... I would say ever since she had visited the park as a child."
    She had a liking for the "animal world of Great Britain" and did not have "a particular affinity" to big cats but she saw it as "a privilege" to work with them, said Mrs McClay.
    Mrs McClay said she had not seen a photograph of her daughter, widely used in the press, with her face painted as a tiger.
    She confirmed Miss McClay was in a relationship with her partner, David Shaw, at the time.
    Mr Smith asked her: "Were they happy together?" Mrs McClay replied: "Oh very."
    She said she believed her daughter did not have any health or money problems.
    The coroner asked: "Happy with what she was doing?"
    Mrs McClay said: "She was settled in her life."
    Asked by Mr Smith about her personality, Mrs McClay said: "She was a meticulous person to the extreme. She would never just do something. She always wanted to do it a little bit better.
    "She was a conversational person. She would discuss things and she would be never critical of anyone else and would listen to their point of view."
    Speaking about media coverage, which contained calls for the tiger to be killed, Mrs McClay said: "That is absolutely 100 per cent not what Sarah would not have wanted.
    "She would not have blamed the tiger for anything what had happened."
     
  4. bigcat speciali

    bigcat speciali Well-Known Member

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    Published at 15:46, Monday, 15 September 2014
    A POST-MORTEM examination showed among Miss McClay's unsurvivable injuries were deep puncture wounds to the neck, the back of her body, both arms and her left foot.

    There was crushing to the spine in the neck and at the top of the chest on the right side, along with fractured ribs and underlying injuries to both lungs.

    Bruising and abrasions to her head and back were consistent with her being dragged along the ground, the inquest heard.

    Reopening the inquest at County Hall, which is scheduled to last up to six days, Mr Smith told the jury of six women and four men that the nature of the case was “extremely unusual”.

    He told them: “Your job is to decide the facts. To decide what actually happened because it is not altogether clear at this stage.”

    To aid them a scale model of the tiger house has been made which the jury inspected today.

    A short video of the park’s tiger house, filmed last June, was also shown in court.

    The tiger enclosure – which housed a male and a female Sumatran tiger on the left side and two jaguar big cats and an Amur tiger on the right – consists of a number of compartments both indoor and outdoor connected by lockable doors which all worked independently.

    Jurors were told their attention would be focused on the left side of the enclosure.

    Within the enclosure was a light den and a dark den for the tigers, and a keeper’s corridor.

    Keepers were required to enter various parts of the enclosure in the course of their routine duties such as cleaning.

    However, systems were in place via sliding metal gates to ensure that animals and keepers remained apart at all times.

    Owen Broadhead, a senior environmental health officer with Barrow Borough Council – which licenses the park – told the inquest that he was the first officer from the local authority, responsible for health and safety at work, to attend the scene on the day, along with police.

    He told the inquest that a bolt on the top of the dark den door, which opened on to the keeper’s corridor, was found to be defective.

    He said: “The bolt could not held be back. When it tried to close into the frame (of the door) it would bang against the frame which left a gap of 20 to 25 millimetres.

    “If the bolt was working properly it would be held back and would close tightly into the frame.”

    He agreed with lawyer David Rogers, representing the wildlife park, that his inspection of the door took place some hours after the incident had happened and there had been “quite a lot of activity” in that area previously.

    He said he could not say when the damage had occurred.

    Mr Broadhead said he visited the park the following week and the bolt was still defective.

    The park had a six-year licence and the licensing authority carried out roughly annual inspections, the jury heard.

    Mr Broadhead said the council had carried out an inspection on May 20 – four days before the fatality- but it was focused primarly on animal welfare.

    He told Mr Rogers that there were no concerns relating to the design of the tiger enclosure or the operating procedures following that inspection.

    The coroner told the jury they would hear more detail about the tiger house in due course and would also hear from David Gill, the founder and owner of the park, who was present in court today.

    The jury will visit the park tomorrow morning before more evidence is taken later.
     
  5. Nanook

    Nanook Well-Known Member

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    It might seem an obvious question, but if the defective bolt is to blame, are we presuming that the tiger must have managed to get through this door ? Does anyone know ??
    I am also presuming that there was a bottom bolt, normally there are top and bottom bolts on big cat doors, and if that one was still secure it would appear that the animal squeezed through the top part of the door ? It would probably depend upon the size of the door too, if it was fairly large that would make it easier for the tiger to get through.
    If the defective bolt is to blame that is a serious and pretty damming health and safety failing on the part of the South lakes management.
     
  6. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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  7. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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  8. alfiethetortois

    alfiethetortois Well-Known Member

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  9. bigcat speciali

    bigcat speciali Well-Known Member

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    Sadness that such a keeper and that a keeper died in such a way. Mr Gill has many questions to answer, not just on the health & safety aspect, the firearms issue and the running of the park in such a poor fashion. But he also has questions or morality and conduct of himself which he must answer. There are many good functional zoos and parks, with great keepers and great teams behind them. However, there are many dysfunctional zoos and staff, owners and the like. We can all name these dysfunctional places and people, we can all tut tut to their wrong doings. However, education as well as maintaining a lawful stance must continue to be seen as a valuable tool against those who are dysfunctional.
     
  10. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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  11. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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    A statement just released on the parks Facebook:

    Today was the final day of the Inquest regarding the death of Sarah McClay back on 24th May 2013. The Jury gave a narrative conclusion where no blame is attached to any party. It was a very difficult week for everyone re living the events.

    David Gill the Zoo's founder and owner made a statement to the media after the inquest :

    "Sarah McClay was a dedicated and valued member of the animal caring staff at the park. Her enthusiasm and friendly character were appreciated by everyone she met. Sarah was committed to the aims of the park, to conservation and to preservation of rare species as seen for example in the Red Squirrel project she helped to develop and run. Her tragic and untimely death has affected all of us at the park and she is greatly missed. On behalf of myself and everyone at the park I wish to convey our condolences to Mr Shaw, Fiona McClay and all of Sarah's family and friends."

    The Sarah McClay Memorial Garden is due to be opened in May 2015 and in a few weeks time we have arriving 2 breeding pairs of Red Squirrels to carry on with the Red Squirrel Project that Sarah was so passionate about
     
  12. bigcat speciali

    bigcat speciali Well-Known Member

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    CUMBRIA ZOO INQUEST: SARAH MCCLAY'S FAMILY STILL HAVE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
    Last updated at 09:25, Saturday, 20 September 2014
    The family of a woman animal keeper mauled to death when a tiger walked through an open door say they still have questions unanswered following the conclusion of an inquest into her death.

    Sarah McClay, 24, was pounced on in the keeper's corridor of the tiger house at South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Cumbria before she was dragged by the back of the neck into a den and then to an outside enclosure.

    The animal was supposed to never have access to the corridor but male tiger Padang walked straight through a door to where Miss McClay, from Barrow, was as she carried out her cleaning and feeding duties in the house.

    An inquest jury in Kendal ruled in a narrative verdict that Padang got to Miss McClay by entering two open internal sliding gates within the house and then an open door that led on to the corridor.

    Systems were in place at the park in Dalton-in-Furness in to ensure that animals and keepers remained apart at all times through indoor and outdoor compartments connected by lockable self-closing doors.

    But when staff members rushed in after the attack on May 24 last year they found the door to one of the tigers' dens ajar and not locked.

    Two internal sliding gates were also open which allowed Padang and his female companion, Alisha, to move in and out of a light den and a dark den to the outside enclosure.

    The court heard that a bolt on the top of the dark den door - which had been the one open immediately before the attack - was found to be defective in the hours following her death as the scene was examined but it could not be said if that damage had occurred before the fatality.

    An environmental health officer for the local authority told the jury that the top spring-loaded bolt could not be held back and it would bang against the frame when it tried to close, which left a gap of between 20mm and 25mm.

    The jury found that one or more of the bolts on that door extended so as to prevent it from closing into the frame.

    South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith told jurors though that their task was not to try and apportion any blame for Miss McClay's death but to determine the facts.

    A criminal health and safety at work investigation is being held by Barrow Borough Council which licenses the park.

    Following the hearing, Miss McClay's boyfriend, David Shaw, 25, told reporters he had a theory as to why the door to the corridor was open but he said he was not willing to share it at this stage.

    He said: "We will see how things move forward. We are aware that the council in Barrow is still conducting their investigation and it would be wrong of us to say anything before they have concluded that investigation.

    "There are always questions that we would like answered. We know full well that we will not be able to answer some of them ever but there is the chance that some answers may come out in the investigation in time."

    In a joint statement with Miss McClay's mother, Fiona, Mr Shaw, a systems engineer for British Aerospace, added: "Sarah's death has been difficult for us all and we hope that today's conclusion will help us move forward in some way.

    "While this inquest has been a necessary step and has allowed us to understand some of the events on the day in greater detail, it cannot bring Sarah back to us

    "Our thanks go out to all of Sarah's friends, colleagues and well-wishers who have stood by us and who have offered their emotional strength to us. Your support has helped us through this traumatic time."

    Glasgow-born Miss McClay had worked at the park for more than two years and was well experienced with working with big cats which she saw as a "privilege".

    Her mother, a 50-year-old housekeeper from Linlithgow, West Lothian, said it was her daughter's "dream job" after she had visited the park as a child.

    Giving evidence, she also said Miss McClay was "a meticulous person to the extreme" who did not have any health or money problems.

    Mrs McClay said her daughter would not have blamed the tiger for the attack and would not want it to be killed.

    Colleagues spoke of her "bubbly" personality, her passion for the job and her ability to engage with people, especially children.

    A post-mortem examination showed among Miss McClay's unsurvivable injuries were deep puncture wounds to the neck, the back of her body, both arms and her left foot.

    The jury heard that she was airlifted from the scene to Royal Preston Hospital where she was formally pronounced dead.

    Park visitor Gareth Bell, from Newcastle was the only person to see the moment through a viewing window that the tiger entered the corridor

    He said it "tore through" the door unhindered and dragged Miss McClay into the den as she let out a scream.

    Fellow zoo keeper Emma Els told the hearing that Miss McClay had let her into the tiger house shortly before the attack in the mid-afternoon to grease the internal sliding gates.

    But during the routine she ran out of grease and was let out of the tiger's dark den by Miss McClay and then the keeper's entrance.

    She said she could not recall whether her colleague shut the door on to the corridor after letting her out.

    Mrs Els said the Sumatran tigers were locked outside and in the outside enclosure at the time.

    She said it was around 3.45pm feeding time for the big cats but that the Sumatran tigers were on their once-a-week fasting that day.

    When she returned to the tiger house she saw people outside and someone had shouted "the tiger is out", she said.

    Her husband, Cornelius, a maintenance worker, rushed to the scene and forced open the entrance door with a crowbar as staff secured the area.

    Park owner and founder David Gill, who designed the tiger house, told the jury how he jumped out of a digger 80 yards away and ran towards a fence on the side of the enclosure where he saw the tiger sitting over Miss McClay.

    He said he struggled to get a clean shot on Padang and had targeted the top of the animal's shoulder when he fired his rifle and the tiger darted back into the house.

    In a statement issued today, Mr Gill said: "Sarah McClay was a dedicated and valued member of the animal caring staff at the park.

    "Her enthusiasm and friendly character were appreciated by everyone she met. Sarah was committed to the aims of the park, to conservation and to preservation of rare species as seen for example in the red squirrel project she helped to develop and run.

    "Her tragic and untimely death has affected all of us at the park and she is greatly missed.

    "On behalf of myself and everyone at the park I wish to convey our condolences to Mr Shaw, Fiona McClay and all of Sarah's family and friends."

    Shortly after Miss McClay's death, Mr Gill reportedly suggested that it was because of "keeper mistake" and "a sad error of judgment".

    Her family criticised the comments as "ill-advised, premature and disrepectful" and said it had caused them hurt.

    Before Mr Gill was due to give evidence at the inquest, Mrs McClay asked to leave the room.

    She explained today that up to that point that only positive comments had been made about her daughter and she was wary that the statement would be brought up and cause those comments to be "spoilt".

    Asked about Mr Gill's initial statement, she said: "I thought it was absolutely negative and certainly did not give anyone who read it a true picture of Sarah but I felt that everyone in court this week has done that."

    At the time of the death, Cumbria Police said there was no suggestion of any foul play, suicide or self-harm and they believed it to be due to human or system error, or mechanical failing, or combination of both. North West Evening Mail | Home | Cumbria zoo inquest: Sarah McClay's family still have unanswered questions
     
  13. bigcat speciali

    bigcat speciali Well-Known Member

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    I see that Dave Gill has removed the statement from the Face Book page of South Lakes https://www.facebook.com/SouthLakesWildAnimalPark regarding the inquest findings of Sarah McClay, this statement was a lawyer prepared one. I note that he has kept the diatribe nonsense regarding his beloved feeding poles but removed the Sarah McClay message. I find this unsavory and very low, the observation is that he cares more about his feeding poles than a keepers death.
     
  14. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Very little surprise that he has done this when one considers that in the past, all comments left on the SLWAP Facebook page by members of the public marking McClay's birthday and the anniversary of her death were deleted with great haste.
     
  15. SHAVINGTONZOO

    SHAVINGTONZOO Well-Known Member

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    It will be interesting to see the outcome of the H&S enquiries. Coverage of the inquest hasn't really told us anything.