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Jack Watson, 24, tragically fell down two floors following a work Christmas party at Pride Park Stadium on November 30, 2019. Jack, from Chester Green, and his fiancée Alexa Heacock had been leaving the Igor’s Lounge of the venue at around midnight when Jack attempted to slide down a bannister of a spiral staircase and lost his balance.
Emergency services rushed to the venue, but could not save the design engineer who was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Wednesday, Jack’s family paid tribute to his life during a hearing at Derby Coroner’s Court.
His mother, Jill Watson, said: “I would like to say he wasn’t just only our son – he was a real friend.”He was kind-hearted, thoughtful, full of fun and he liked to have a laugh.
“He was really intelligent, he worked really hard with his degree.
“He had moved to Derby just six months earlier. He was happy and looking forward to whatever life would bring him.”
Jack’s heartbroken mother also told the hearing that he had been together with Ms Heacock since they were just 16-years-old.
Ms Heacock told the hearing the couple had planned to go out into Derby with friends after the Christmas party and were leaving the event when the tragic incident took place.
Ms Heacock said Jack, who worked as a design engineer for Expleo Limited, had been “between merry and drunk” when the party finished at around midnight.
She said: “He decided it would be fun to slide down the bannister.
“He went to slide down the bannister on his bum to get to the bottom of the first landing.
“But he tipped backwards and fell down the whole of the spiral staircase instead.”
A nurse, who was attending the work party, rushed to give first aid before paramedics arrived at the scene.
But ambulance crews were unable to save Jack and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
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A post-mortem showed Jack had died of a head injury sustained in the fall, with the pathologist saying in their opinion he would have been unconscious “almost instantly”.
Assistant coroner for Derby and Derbyshire Mrs Tanyka Rawden was told there was no CCTV footage of the incident as it had not yet been installed in the specific area.
Steve Fletcher, general manager of Club DCFC for Delaware North, which runs hospitality at the club, told the hearing that CCTV has now been put in place.
He said after an investigation the club had also decided to hire an additional security guard for hospitality events whose job is to patrol the landings and stairwells.
Inspectors from Derby City Council told the inquest the stairwell railings at the venue were found to be “structurally sound” and had not contributed to Jack falling.
Mrs Rawden said while she was pleased to see changes had been made, she was of the opinion that even if they had been in place at the time, nothing could have been done to prevent what happened.
She said: “Sadly in this situation, I do not think Jack’s death would’ve been prevented.”This is the most tragic of situations and I cannot imagine what you have gone through.
“We should have heard this inquest before today and I’m sorry that you didn’t. I’m so sorry that Jack isn’t in your lives anymore.
“I can see how much you miss him.”
Mrs Rawden recorded a conclusion of death by misadventure.
A spokesperson for Derby Country Football Club said: “Derby County Football Club wishes to express its sadness that Jack Watson, at the age of just 24, passed away at Pride Park Stadium on 30th November 2019.
“The club’s deepest condolences and thoughts have been, and continue to be, with his family and friends at such a difficult time.”
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