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Dover funfair tragedy: Mackenzie Croxford-Cook died of crush injuries after climbing on ride

A teenage boy was tragically crushed at a travelling funfair after he climbed up onto a ride, an inquest has heard today.

Mackenzie Croxford-Cook, 14, was pinned six feet off the ground after becoming trapped between an arm of the attraction and a hydraulic supporting beam.

Mackenzie Croxford-Cook, 14, lived in Deal
Mackenzie Croxford-Cook, 14, lived in Deal

His friends tried desperately to release him, but he sadly died at the scene.

An inquest into his death was heard at Maidstone's County Hall today.

It was told that Mackenzie, from Deal, entered the closed funfair in Pencester Gardens, Dover, with friends and played on a number of rides, including trampolines and dodgems.

They then went to the 'Body Count' ride, and begun to push the seats around, a close friend of Mackenzie's told the inquest.

The arm that contained the seats does not have a locking mechanism for health and safety reasons, and so began to turn after some effort from the teens.

The funfair in Pencester Gardens was cordoned off by police after the tragedy
The funfair in Pencester Gardens was cordoned off by police after the tragedy

While it was spinning, Mackenzie told his friends he would try and climb to the top.

However, when he tried to do so, he became trapped in the contraption and screamed.

His friends told police how they had tried to push the mechanism in the opposite direction, but had been unable to move it due to the weight of the chairs.

Investigating officer DS Antony Welch said: "The chairs are extremely heavy, so once they are moving they're hard to stop.

"While at the top, [Mackenzie] became trapped between the arm and carriage six. His friends tried to move the ride back anticlockwise but couldn't do so - neither could paramedics.

"Tragically, Mackenzie could not be freed and died at the scene before emergency services could arrive."

The fairground ride connected with the incident was later removed from the park. Photo: David Joseph Wright
The fairground ride connected with the incident was later removed from the park. Photo: David Joseph Wright

Paramedics were called to the scene at just past 7.40am on August 3, 2022.

An ambulance service statement to the coroner's court said crews had found Mackenzie still pinned by the ride. The report said that the teen's chest had been crushed, and paramedics had been unable to revive him.

A post-mortem gave his cause of death as traumatic internal injuries, and added that while a urine sample showed previous cannabis use, it was not of a high enough dosage to suggest it was notable to the incident.

On the issue of security at the venue and how the teenagers were able to access the rides, the inquest heard that Dover District Council (DDC) was unable to block off access to the path through the gardens, which are a public right of way.

Messages paid tribute to Mackenzie at the scene in Dover. Photo: UKNIP
Messages paid tribute to Mackenzie at the scene in Dover. Photo: UKNIP

As such, as was said to be commonplace at most fairgrounds across the country, there was no requirement in place to secure the rides or access to the fair outside of operating hours.

Roger Walton, strategic director at DDC, told the court the council was now considering measures in the wake of the tragedy, including the potential introduction of a requirement for security outside of opening times at funfairs in the district.

No blame was apportioned to Forrest Attractions, which organised the funfair, and no fault nor blame was found with the ride or its operator Paul Shufflebottom.

Speaking to the court, Mr Shufflebottom said the tragic incident was "amongst anyone in the industry that I have spoken to, the first of its kind".

Assistant coroner James Dylan recorded Mackenzie's death as one of misadventure.

"I would like to pass on the condolences from all of us here at the coroner's service to the family and friends of Mackenzie for the tragic loss of this young man," he added.

Mackenzie, a student at the Goodwin Academy in Deal, was described as a "beautiful, special boy" following his death.

Speaking to KentOnline after his death, his heartbroken nan, Debbie Harris, said her "thoughtful, loving" grandson would "always be in our hearts".

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.

"He was always happy to help others - it was something he took great pride in," she added.

Mackenzie grew up in Deal from the age of six, attending the town's St Mary’s primary school and later the Goodwin Academy.

His nan said he enjoyed maths and science.

Tributes to Mackenzie were also left at the park, with notes paying homage to his character.

A spokesperson for Forrest Amusements, which runs the fair, said at the time the company was "deeply saddened " by Mackenzie's death.

"Our thoughts and sympathy are with the boy’s family at this terrible time," they said.

"As a family-run funfair, this incident has affected us all.

"We would like to thank all the emergency services that attended that day, who did everything they possibly could, and we are very grateful to each and every one of them."

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