Stotfold girl in terrifying climbing wall choking incident

Nine-year-old Miranda Vallance after the incident

Nine-year-old Miranda Vallance after the incident - Credit: Archant

A MOTHER has spoken of her horror as she watched her young daughter ‘being strangled’ when a climbing experience went wrong.

Nine-year-old Miranda Vallance, from Stotfold, had been taken to a climbing wall at thecentre:mk in Milton Keynes as a treat after a shopping trip there.

After climbing the wall, she was being lowered down on a rope when her safety helmet snagged on a foothold.

Her mother, Lynn, said: “The attendant who should have been watching her was occupied talking to the MK event organiser, which is quite ironic. He had his back to my daughter. When her helmet got caught on the foothold, the machine was still pulling her down. She was left dangling on the wall, while the helmet strap strangled her neck.

“I ushered to him to get her down quick and said she was being strangled, because she could not breathe or call out. At this point she was unable to speak, was bright red in the face and was choking, with her little legs flaying around.

“I must say I think he was slow at his response. He attended to her helmet first and attempted to unfree it, but she was still choking, so I called to him to ‘lift her body up’ so her neck had a chance to breathe. It was all very frightening.

“As a mother, to watch your child in a distressed state and feeling helpless is the most sickening feeling and I would not like any other child or mother to suffer this experience. My child’s two sisters were also watching the event and felt great despair and upset. All I really wanted was an apology, which I didn’t get.”

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Bosses at thecentre:mk have closed the climbing wall and are currently undertaking an investigation.

In a statement, the centre said: “The operator had provided all the necessary documentation required for health and safety, including risk assessments and public liability insurance prior to the activity being installed. The young shopper was attended at the climbing wall by thecentre:mk staff and no medical intervention was required.”

Josh Maye, of Josh Maye Mountaineering, which put up the wall, has apologised for what happened, saying an incident of this kind had never occurred in his business before.

He was the attendant at the time and said: “I believe that every action is taken to ensure that each participant has an equally safe and enjoyable time while using the mobile climbing wall.

“Obviously with any activity there is an element of risk, which is what makes such events so popular. Every climber is briefed on ascending and descending the wall appropriately. Unfortunately, on this one occasion Mrs Vallance’s daughter caught her helmet on one of the holds on the wall when descending and I feel that my actions were the quickest, safest and most effective at that time.

“Since then we have amended the risk assessment for the wall to now include caught helmets, as this type of incident has not happened before. My staff have now been briefed on how to deal with such an event, if it were to happen again, in the most efficient way possible.

“We are sorry this incident occurred as the safety of our clients is of prime importance.”