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He Was Looking for His Keys When the Footrest Came Down—Fatally

Electronics failure caused brain injuries, cardiac arrest
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2019 6:13 PM CDT
A Vue movie theater in England. A 24-year-old man was killed in a Vue in Birmingham when an electronic footrest lowered itself onto him.   (Getty/s99)

(Newser) – A 24-year-old man was killed while searching for his cellphone and keys under his seat in a movie theater in England when an electronic footrest lowered itself onto him, an inquest was told Thursday. Ateeq Rafiq died in a hospital a week after the incident last year, the BBC reports. The footrest was raised when he began searching under the seat, but began to come down quickly, Birmingham jurors were told. His wife tried to hold the footrest up but couldn't; her fingers also became caught for a time, per Sky News. Employees at the Vue multiplex freed Rafiq by removing a bolt from the seat, which had trapped him by his neck. The coroner testified that he died of catastrophic brain injuries after cardiac arrest.

A government inspector testified that he found it impossible to lift eight of the 52 footrests in the theater. The "Gold Class" seats work only when the patron is seated, he said, and return to a vertical position 4 seconds after the patron leaves the seat. Rafiq's seat had blown a fuse in its control box, the inspector said, landing on him with great force. (Read more inquest stories.)

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