Engineer’s family still seek answers over pop-up urinal death

Image source, Holding family

Image caption,

Kevin Holding is survived by his parents, his partner and four children, and three grandchildren

The family of a man killed in a freak accident more than a year ago say they are still looking for answers.

Kevin Holding, 60, was crushed when a pop-up urinal he was working on in Soho dropped suddenly, on 27 January 2023.

His daughter Karlie, 36, described him as “the life and soul of the family and the glue that held us together”.

The Met Police admitted it “has not provided the family with the support they would expect during the past year”.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Ms Holding criticised a lack of communication from the authorities, saying: “I wouldn’t want any family to go through how we’ve been dealt with.”

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Mr Holding was employed by a contractor to carry out work on London’s pop-up urinals, for which Westminster Council is responsible

The engineer, from Beckenham in south-east London, was left trapped underneath the telescopic urinal, which dropped on him while he was working on the device, last February’s inquest was told.

The inquest heard the emergency services reached the scene, at the junction between Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road, at about 13:05 GMT but a crane to help lift the urinal took more than two hours to arrive.

The 60-year-old was identified by his Oyster card.

Image source, twitter / @KetoCancerQueen

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Fire crews tried to save Mr Holding, whose death was found by a post-mortem examination to have been caused by asphyxiation

His daughter paid tribute to “a big, friendly giant”. She said: “I don’t want him to be remembered as the man that was killed by the toilet.

“He was such a big character and he did everything for everyone, even for all our friends, as well as family.

“If they phoned him and said, ‘Kevin, can you come and help me?’ he’d be there in a shot. He wouldn’t see anyone without help.

“We were very lucky to have him in our life.”

Image source, Holding family

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Mr Holding, pictured with Karlie and his grandson Ethan, a month before his death

Ms Holding, who lives in Kent, criticised a lack of communication from the Metropolitan Police and Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which are investigating the circumstances of her father’s death.

“It’s been absolutely disgusting how we’ve been treated for such a public incident that was completely out of my dad’s control,” the personal assistant told the BBC.

“There’s a million questions that we would like answering. They have just left the family with no answers, no support, no financial support.

“None of the parties are taking liability and all we want is answers.”

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Karlie Holding worries the wait for answers could go on for years

Det Ch Insp Dean Purvis, from the Metropolitan Police, said: “I have recently reviewed our investigation into this tragic death, and it is clear that we have not provided the family with the support they would expect during the past year.

“This is a matter of regret to me and I will contact them to discuss their concerns and answer any questions they have regarding the status of the investigation, especially why it appears to be taking a long time to establish what happened.”

The family also wants Mr Holding’s phone to be returned but the Met said “it is vital” to keep the device until the investigation concludes.

Image source, Holding family

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The death of Mr Holding, pictured here next to Karlie on her wedding day, has left a huge hole in his family’s lives

Westminster City Council, which has responsibility for the pop-up toilets in the area, said its “deepest sympathies are with Mr Holding’s family and friends following his tragic death”.

An HSE spokesperson said: “We understand the family’s concerns and while we are still investigating the incident, primacy remains with the Metropolitan Police. Inquiries at our specialist site in Buxton are ongoing.

“We are committed to maintaining regular contact with Mr Holding’s family in line with this police-led investigation. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.”

Image source, Holding family

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The father of three is much missed by his family

For Ms Holding, who passes the site of her dad’s death each day on her way to work, what happened to him is “like an elephant in the room” when the family gets together.

She said: “It’s like this emptiness, a big hole that we can’t fill. They always say, ‘Give it a year and a day and things will get better’ but they don’t.

“It’s just really hard as a family. We’ve got each other and we’re pulling through but we’re all going through it at different times and we all want different answers.

“It’s just sometimes just too much for us.”

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