herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

'All the children were screaming' - terror of Tayto stairs collapse

The House of Horrors at Tayto Park was boarded up following the incident
The House of Horrors at Tayto Park was boarded up following the incident

Two sisters narrowly avoided serious injury when stairs collapsed at an amusement park's House of Horrors attraction, leaving nine people injured.

The injured were rushed to hospital following the terrifying incident at Tayto Park in Ashbourne, Co Meath on Saturday night.

Rian O'Ceallaigh (25) from Whitehall, Dublin, was with her sister Eile (13) in the Halloween attraction at 8pm and said they initially thought a noise from behind them was part of the show.

"Myself, my little sister and her two friends were there," Rian said.

"We just stepped off that bit of the staircase and we heard a creak. We thought it was part of the show, but next of all the staircase just went and everyone behind us just dropped.

Screaming

"All the younger children, and adults even, were screaming and crying. It really was very scary. We were very lucky, we'd literally taken one step off that part of the stairs so it was awfully frightening.

"We didn't know where to go then because you could only go up with the rest of the staircase gone, and then we thought that all would collapse as well. It was just very scary."

DJ Nikki Hayes also told how lucky she was to escape injury.

The 37-year-old Spin 1038 and 4FM star had been broad casting from the theme park on the day.

"The event was sold out and there was a big crowd and I remember commenting to one of the Tayto people that there was a lot of staff on. Everything was fine and everyone was enjoying themselves," Nikki told the Herald.

"Then, when we had finished the broadcast at 6pm, we were given a trip through the House of Horrors and everything was fine. I would have remembered if I had thought there was anything wrong with the stairs, but there was no indication that anything would collapse.

"Afterwards we went on the roller coaster and it was only later in the evening I heard that the stairs had collapsed.

"Obviously I was shocked but I think it was an isolated incident. It wouldn't stop me going back," she added. Tayto Park has denied the House of Horrors attraction was badly supervised.

Ambulances took the victims to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and St James's Hospital in Dublin city centre after the wooden stairs gave way.

People who attended the event claimed there was poor crowd control and supervision and long queues for the opening night of the event.

"I was there with my son and the queue was huge. As a result there were kids running around and there was no crowd or queue control," one man told the Herald. "Everyone headed straight for the House of Horrors at the same time.

"The staff all seemed to be very young and, because the queue was so big, we decided to go and do a few of the other attractions and come back, but when we returned we heard the stairs had collapsed and the event was closed."

Tayto Park has said it had more than enough staff in place for the Halloween attraction.

"There were 1,300 people at the event and we had enough staff on duty to cover 5,000 guests," said Charles Coyle, general manager of the park.

It is estimated there were around 25 people on the stairs when the structure collapsed.

Sources said there were no serious injuries and, by yesterday afternoon, all of those hospitalised had been discharged.

"The aim is to have the Health & Safety Authority out on Monday to start the investigation and, once they are satisfied with their findings we hope to open again," said Mr Coyle.

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