Social worker killed by roller garage door after asking friend if she had ever tried hanging on to one before

Telegraph Reporters
Heidi Chalkley, left, who died after hanging onto roller garage doors, right - SWNS

A social worker died of multiple injuries when she grabbed hold of a garage's roller shutter door which pulled her upwards and crushed her, an inquest heard. 

Heidi Chalkley, 40, was heading for a night out in Cambridge with Susan Gilmore when she asked her friend if she had ever held onto the garage doors when the mechanism pulled the shutters up. 

Ms Gilmore said, "No," and seconds later she watched her friend die in the at the entrance to the car park of her block of flats as Ms Chalkley was lifted three feet off the ground.

In a statement read by Cambridgeshire's assistant coroner Sean Horstead, Ms Gilmore said: "We had planned to go out for a drink in Cambridge. Before going out I planned to drop my car off at home."

She drove in to the car park as normal, using a clicker to open the door, with the barrier - a metal grille - rising into a box at the top.

Ms Gilmore said she parked and both women walked towards the barrier which goes out on to the street.

"As we planned on going straight out and into town, we walked towards the barrier rather than to the internal doors and going into the flat," she said.

"We were walking next to each other and Heidi has gone slightly ahead of me and pressed the button. As it went up Heidi said to me 'Have you ever held on to it as it goes up?' I said 'No'.

"She then reached up, held the shutter and it lifted her off the ground."

Emergency vehicles respond to the 999 call from Ms Chalkley's friend  Credit: SWNS

She continued: "I thought she would let go but she started to panic as her hands got caught in the barrier. Everything happened really quickly, in a matter of seconds."

She said her friend's legs were hanging down and her body appeared "folded".

The inquest heard how Ms Gilmore ran upstairs to her flat to dial 999, meanwhile a neighbour tried to save her life by lifting her body up to release pressure on her neck, an inquest has heard.

At around 7.25pm on August 14, 2016, James Spitale said he heard someone on the phone sounding "incredibly distressed", then saw a woman hanging about 3ft from the ground at the entrance to the car park of Ruth Bagnall Court, a block of flats in Coleridge Road.

In a statement, he said there was blood coming from the woman's mouth, adding: "My immediate thought was to grab her and lift her up.

"I hoped it would release the pressure on her neck and allow her to breathe." When emergency services arrived they told him it was too late, he said.

Heidi Chalkley

A post-mortem examination gave Ms Chalkley's cause of death as multiple injuries, noting fractures to her ribs, spine, arms and jawbone.

It recorded that she had no alcohol or drugs in her system.

In a statement, Ms Chalkley's family said she had hundreds of friends, "everyone who ever met her warmed to her magnetism" and without her "this world is a much colder place".

The inquest continues.