‘Extremely lucky to be alive’ says Derry postman

Local community worker Graham Warke and a police officer help 85 years-old Albert J. Thompson, whose car was flattened by the building collapse, from his house in Kennedy Place, The Fountain. 2104JM05
Local community worker Graham Warke and a police officer help 85 years-old Albert J. Thompson, whose car was flattened by the building collapse, from his house in Kennedy Place, The Fountain. 2104JM05

A Derry postman who witnessed a derelict building collapsing on to a car says he’s “extremely lucky to be alive”.

Don Redden was delivering letters in the Fountain area on Friday when all of a sudden a derelict building in Kennedy Place collapsed and fell on to a car below.

“I couldn’t believe it - I saw the whole thing as it happened,” said Don.

Don said on the morning of the incident he decided he would take a different route around the Fountain and explained had he gone his usual route he could have easily been killed.

“I don’t know why but I decided to go around the Fountain delivering my post a different way today [Friday].

“The house collapsed shortly before 1pm and that’s the time that I would usually be on that side of the street - I am extremely lucky to be alive,” he said.

The building was formerly used by the Ulster Unionist Party and more recently, the Cathedral Youth Club until it acquired new premises.

A crèche and primary school are located near to where the dramatic incident took place.

The elderly man whose car was crushed by the collapsing property described the incident as an “absolute horror”.

Mr. Albert J. Thompson, (85), who lives alone, was in his living room in Kennedy Place when he heard a loud bang outside.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ at the scene he said: “I heard a loud noise outside. I didn’t know what it was but when I looked outside I saw my car had been crushed - it was an absolute horror. I could have so easily been getting into or getting out of the car - it’s lucky no-one was killed.”

Mr. Thompson’s car, a 2000 Seat, is his only mode of transport and he said whilst he is thankful no-one was hurt he wants the matter resolved as soon as possible.

“I depend on my car - it’s how I get about - hopefully someone can get something sorted soon,” he said.

Diane Gillon lives next door to the building that collapsed.

She said when she heard the loud noise she thought someone had knocked something over but when she looked outside to investigate she was shocked at what she saw.

“I couldn’t believe it - it was like nothing I had ever seen before.

“Initially I thought somebody had knocked something over outside but when I looked down on to the street I remember thinking: ‘God, I hope there’s no one under there’.”

Ms. Gillon said she was instantly worried about Mr. Thompson as she could see his car had been crushed.

“He [Mr. Thompson] is my next door neighbour and sometimes when he is getting into or getting out of his car, he tends to sit in it for a little while.

“I was really worried about him but eventually we found out he was safe inside his house. It’s a miracle no-one was killed here today,” she said.

An investigation into the cause of the collapsed building is ongoing.