Pals plunged into darkness during car park lift drama

Friends Martin and Katie Smith and Howard and Samantha Wing were some of a group of eight people trapped in the lift
Friends Martin and Katie Smith and Howard and Samantha Wing were some of a group of eight people trapped in the lift
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A group of friends have told of their ordeal after being trapped in a lift and plunged into darkness for half an hour when their pleas for help went unanswered.

Martin and Katie Smith, 32, from Fleetwood, had been out for the evening with friends, Howard and Samantha Wing, in Blackpool on Saturday night when the drama unfolded.

It was a job that an engineer could have sorted out. Instead two fire engines were turned out, which, when resources are stretched, seems pretty bad

But as they used the lift at West Street Car Park, along with four other people, the lift suddenly stopped, before dropping around one metre, and jamming, they said.

The lift was stuck in situ, just shy of the second floor of the council-run car park, for around half an hour before fire crews were called to rescue the group.

Designer Mr Smith, 35, has told how an attendant contacted via the lift’s minicom seemed “uninterested” and even “hung up the line” while they were trapped in the lift, which was in pitch darkness for around 20 minutes of the ordeal.

He said: “We were going up and got to the second floor and I think we went above that, and then it felt like we dropped about a metre, it went with a hell of a bang.

“We called the emergency button and were put on hold.

“The situation was pretty bad, down to the way we were treated by the lift minicom attendent, they were horrendous. They said we’d have to wait 50-90 minutes.

“There was eight of us, it was getting really, really hot and then the lights went out.

“It was scary, my wife was very upset. Not once did we get some reassurance about what was happening.

“People were starting to get distressed.

“I did get a bit irate and then they just hung up, so we called the police.”

Lancashire Police was contacted at around 10.25pm by the desperate group, pleading to be rescued.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) deployed two teams of five firefighters, from Forest Gate Fire Station, who arrived shortly after 10.30pm to rescue to the group, using cutters to free them from the lift shaft.

A spokesman for LFRS said: “We’re just glad to help out. Mercifully, no-one was injured but it must have been upsetting for them.”

Mr Smith added: “It was a job that an engineer could have sorted out. Instead two fire engines were turned out, which, when resources are stretched, seems pretty bad.”

Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council’s director responsible for parking, said: “The 24 hour response and management of the lifts in West Street car park is carried out by external contractors who arrived at West Street within an hour on Saturday night to try to fix the lift. We appreciate that this would have been a worrying situation for those involved.

“Following this incident, we will be asking our contractors to review the response service to determine whether any improvements need to be made.”