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Birmingham Star City cinema death: Worker 'froze' as man crushed

Birmingham Star City cinema death: Worker 'froze' as man crushed

Ateeq Rafiq died a week after becoming trapped at Birmingham's Star City on 16 March 2018
A cinema worker who tried to help a man trapped under a seat, "froze" and "didn't know what to do", an inquest has heard.Ateeq Rafiq, 24, died a week after becoming stuck while reaching for his belongings at the Vue multiplex at Star City, Birmingham, last March.The inquest earlier heard he was crushed by a force equivalent to three-quarters of a tonne.Adam Bharoochi told Birmingham's coroner he could not release Mr Rafiq.The cinema worker, who was on his first shift in one of the "Gold Class" screen lounges, said he "froze-up for a second because I didn't know what to do".
'Groaning noises'
Mr Rafiq, from Aston in Birmingham, was "making groaning noises", he said, adding: "I tried to lift the bar but it wouldn't lift at all"."I'm sorry for what happened," Mr Bharoochi said.Charles Simmons-Jacobs, from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), earlier said he found it "impossible" to lift eight of the footrests in the 52-seat theatre. The seats only work when a customer was seated, he said, and after they vacated the control box waited four seconds before returning to a vertical position.Mr Rafiq's seat had blown a fuse in its control box, he said, adding that the force that came down on him would have been equivalent to three-quarters of a tonne.The seats were controlled by a double "push-pull" actuator mechanism, which meant the footrest could not be lifted by hand.Had it been fitted with a single push mechanism, Mr Simmons-Jacobs confirmed Mr Rafiq would have been able to use his hands to get back out from under the seat.
Wrench used
Mr Bharoochi, who left the cinema the following month, said he called his colleagues for assistance, none of whom were able to release Mr Rafiq.
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The cinema's duty manager, Elliot Stapley, said staff used a wrench to loosen the footrest from the chair, releasing Mr Rafiq.Emergency services performed CPR before taking him to hospital, where he died a week later.Coroner Emma Brown said Mr Rafiq, who had been with his wife at the cinema, died from catastrophic brain injuries after suffering a cardiac arrest.The inquest continues.
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