Mother devastated after gates crush child, 6

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The Independent Online

The mother of a little girl who was crushed to death by electronic gates said she is "angry and devastated" about the death of her youngest child.

Six-year-old Semelia Campbell became trapped in the gates near her home on Carnival Place in Moss Side, Manchester, on Monday night.

She was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary but died from her injuries a short time later.

Her mother, Judith Gilroy, 41, said the accident would not have happened if the gates had been secured.

Speaking at the scene today, she said: "This should never have happened. The gates are chained up now but they were not secured last night.

"We tried everything we could to free her. She was my whole life, I don't know how I will go on without her.

"I'm just angry and devastated really. The gate was not finished, it shouldn't have happened."

The youngster was playing with her best friend, Jadon Skeritt, six, when she became pinned against a brick post as the motorised gate closed at about 7.30pm on Monday night.

Her family and neighbours fought to free her before paramedics arrived but it is thought she suffered a heart attack as well as the crush injuries.

Health and safety watchdogs and Greater Manchester Police have launched a joint investigation into the death.

The little girl was "kind and sharing", her mother added, and loved school, dancing and reading.

"Her favourite song was Alicia Keys' No One, and I can picture her now singing and dancing along to it," she said.

Flowers, toys and tributes have been left near the gates outside the housing complex.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: "Just before 7.40pm on Monday 28 June 2010, police were called to Maine Road, Moss Side, following reports a child was trapped in a set of electronic gates.

"Officers attended and found that a six-year-old girl was trapped. She was taken to hospital but died a short time later.

"A joint Greater Manchester Police and Health and Safety Executive investigation has been launched."

Semelia had three older siblings - Conroy Kellyman, 14, Tashieka Kellyman, 16, and Nerissa Kellyman, 22.

The family only moved into the Maine Place development, near Maine Road, three weeks ago.

Many of the houses in the area are still being built, and the gates where the incident occurred led on to a building site.

Family and friends gathered round the spot where Semelia died, reading the many cards which have been left at the scene.

Tashieka sobbed as she read the tributes, and said: "I will miss her so much."

One card left by the gates was hand-made by a little girl called Showna.

It read: "I love you so much, thanks for being my friend."

The girl's mother was among the first to reach her daughter after the accident happened and she desperately tried to free her.

Reliving her nightmare, Ms Gilroy said she tried pressing the electronic button to open the gate, and also tried to use a remote control, but neither would work.

Officers eventually freed the little girl by breaking off an electronic box, she said.

HSE guidelines require developers to take steps to prevent people getting trapped in electric gates.

Pressure-sensitive strips and infra-red detectors are both recommended.

A spokesman from developer Lowry Homes said: "Lowry Homes is both saddened and shocked at the tragic incident at the Maine Road Development on the 28th June 2010 and our thoughts are with Semelia Campbell's family and friends at this time.

"The company is continuing to co-operate fully with the police and the HSE investigation and in these circumstances it is inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage."

Semelia is not the first child to die in such tragic circumstances.

In 2006, nine-year-old Jason Keet was crushed to death by a set of electronic gates in Poole, Dorset.

The schoolboy's death was witnessed by his mother, Samantha Whittle, and his sister Rhiannon, aged 12 at the time.

The youngster's head became stuck in a gap between the hinge of the 6ft gates and the concrete pillar.

The boy had leaned through the gap to push a pedestrian button to open the gates to his grandparents' flat in Branksome Park, Poole.

Jason was eventually freed when four passers-by ripped the gate from its hinges.

But he died from head injuries and a heart attack.

Earlier this year Faulkner Gates Ltd, of Romsey, Hants, was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 legal costs after it admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.