Shocked security staff who battled desperately to save the life of a shop worker killed in a horror accident in Blackpool today told how they did “everything possible”.
A major investigation is today continuing after 68-year-old mother Margaret Sheridan died when the front sign of the Waterstones book shop, in Bank Hey Street, Blackpool, collapsed and struck her.
It is believed she had been locking up the shop when the sign fell at around 5.3opm on Monday.
Despite the desperate efforts of nearby shop staff, passers-by and paramedics to save her, she died at the scene as a result of serious injuries.
Today, as floral tributes were placed outside the store and Waterstones paid tribute to a “much loved and well respected colleague”, one worker described the frantic minutes he tried to save her life.
Mark English, 34, a store detective at nearby B&M Bargains, said: “All I could see was the poor lady stuck.
“My heart sank. I grabbed the sign to see how heavy it was and I knew there was no way I could lift it.”
He said he was helped by security staff from TK Maxx to move the sign, at the request of paramedics, to free the woman.
“I really did try my best,” he added. “I wish it had ended differently.
“We just did everything possible but sadly, when we finally got her free, there was nothing the paramedics could do.
“If that was my grandmother, my mum or my wife, I would want to know people did everything possible to help.
“I wish we could have done more for her and her family.
“I lifted that hard that the imprint of the sign is still indented on my jacket. I get a cold chill looking at it.”
An investigation into what is being described as a “tragic accident”, led by Lancashire Police with assistance from Blackpool Council, is now taking place to establish the cause of the signage coming loose.
Meanwhile emotional tributes have been paid to Mrs Sheridan, who lived in Singleton.
A spokesman for Waterstones said: “Waterstones confirms that a tragic accident at its Blackpool shop has resulted in the death of one of its booksellers.
“Margaret Sheridan was a much loved and well respected colleague. We offer our deepest condolences to her family.
“The accident is being investigated by the authorities.”
Author Pete Shelton, whose book Mrs Sheridan helped to market in the shop, said: “She was a most helpful lady, without her I would never have sold my book. She was always busy helping people and was very kind.
“I’m just shocked and a little emotional, it’s a terrible, terrible shock.”
One man, who left a floral tribute at the scene on behalf of his wife, said: “It is such a tragedy.
“Mrs Sheridan was such a wonderful lady. She was so well-liked. She had such a wealth of information and knowledge. We are all very upset about it.”
Gavin Donnelly, assistant manager of HMV, on Bank Hey Street, said: “It’s awful news. It’s very sobering.
“The staff here are saddened and sickened. It’s such a freak accident.
“Our shop does a lot of work with other businesses, we try to work together as best we can to help each other and this is really shocking news.”
Jason Warburton, manager of the 99p Store opposite Waterstones, said his shop was forced to close early as emergency services descended on the scene on Monday night, advising his staff to leave before seeing the heartbreaking scene.
He said: “I’ve seen incidents in the past of shop fascias coming off but never on anyone.
“With the storms I’m suprised more hasn’t happened but it looks like it could just be a really unfortunate accident over there. We’re all shocked about it.”
A worker at Shoe Zone, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s tragic and really sad. It’s devastating for her family.
“It is sombre in town now, the people who helped are all very upset.”
Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said: “This is an awful individual tragedy.
“This is an important thoroughfare and important part of Blackpool’s commercial offering and I think that for the reassurance of anyone in Blackpool, there would be no harm in the regional Health and Safety Executive looking at the safety of the signage along that stretch. I will be raising this with them.”
We do know incidents of extreme weather are on the increase.
“I will be raising this with them and suggesting it would be useful in terms of public confidence, without prejudging the initial report into this investigation.”