Pilot left with fear of heights after Kentish Town station sign collapses on his head

·3-min read
 (Handout)
(Handout)

An airline pilot says he is “lucky to be alive” after being knocked unconscious when a falling sign landed on his head at Kentish Town station.

Piero Burresi-Paone, 58, says he suffered vertigo after the incident in which he was walking with his wife Federica and six-year-old daughter when he was struck by the 20kg sign as it came loose from the entrance to the station.

Doctors called it a “miracle” that Mr Burresi-Paone was not seriously injured or killed on August 21 last year, but he was also left suffering from depression, low energy and memory loss.

He lost his job as a captain and instructor at Qatar Airways in the aftermath of the accident, and is taking legal action against Transport for London.

“I feel so angry that my daughter had to see what she did and was so scared,” he said. “Having seen a video of the incident and seeing her terrified face was very difficult to bear. I am extremely frustrated that nobody has admitted liability even though the sign fell on my head and nearly killed me through no fault of my own.”

Osbornes Law, which is representing Mr Burresi-Paone in his civil claim, said the sign had been reported as loose and at risk of falling. TfL and contractor Engie are accused of not taking any action. “This incident has had a devastating impact on my client’s life,” said lawyer Robert Aylott. “He is desperate for liability to be admitted so that he can move on.”

Mr Burresi-Paone is demanding to know why the area had not been cordoned off on safety grounds, telling the Standard: “If it had been my daughter who had been struck by the sign she would be dead. I am lucky to be alive.”

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(Handout)

The pilot, from Crouch End, spent five days in hospital and has no memory of the incident, which happened during a bout of high winds.

His wife said: “We were walking past the station when I saw what looked like a maintenance man holding his hands up to catch something. He jumped out of the way and at that moment a big national rail and Tube sign fell onto Piero’s head. There was blood down his face. I thought Piero was dead as he was lying on the floor lifeless.”

She added: “The doctors were concerned that he had fractured his spine or suffered brain damage but when they did all of the tests they said it was a miracle that he had not suffered any serious damage.”

Mr Burresi-Paone said the vertigo he suffered from the immediate aftermath was a “disaster” for his career, and “meant that I lost my dream job”.

 (Handout)
(Handout)

“They decided to get rid of me,” he said. “I was devastated and it made me worried that I wouldn’t be able to get another job flying. I have managed to have treatment for the vertigo since which means I am safe to fly but I feel like I have lost everything because of Tfl.”

Esther Sharples of London Underground said: “We take the safety of our network extremely seriously and were very sorry to hear about this incident.

“Our insurers are continuing to provide significant support for the claimant. We wish him a full recovery.”

Engie has been contacted for comment.

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