A 71-year-old man became trapped in a mall when he walked through a fire door exit that closed behind him as he walked through it. Bernard Gore, 71, passed away after weeks of being trapped in a stairwell in Westfield Bondi Junction mall in Sydney, Australia.
According to an inquest into Gore’s death, he became lost and unable to find his way back to the main mall area after walking through a fire door that only opened from one direction. The complex hosts six to eight miles of fire exits, and they would be difficult for anyone to navigate, let alone a 71-year-old who was suffering from the early stages of dementia.
After Gore failed to meet with his wife, Angela, so the couple could go visit their daughter in Sydney, Angela alerted the mall to the situation. They performed a cursory search of the mall’s public areas that day, but told Angela that they didn’t see her husband. Had anyone checked the CCTV footage, however, they would have seen Gore entering the fourth-floor fire door.
Weeks after he went missing, a utility worker in the mall happened to pass through one of the fire escape stairwells. He noticed a man, slumped forward in a half-crouched position. It was Gore, who had passed away after being trapped for weeks in the stairwell. It appeared as though he had been seated in a nearby chair and had slid off at some point.
Gore’s tragic passing sparked an inquest by local authorities. Many questions remain unresolved. Why were the fire exit tunnels not searched when Angela alerted them to her husband being missing? Why were CCTV cameras not reviewed? Why did it take weeks for anyone to even find his body?
A detective in charge of the case described the initial search for Gore as “poor,” stating that clearly no one tried too hard to find a senior citizen in need of help. It’s easy to feel upset and angry for someone getting lost in a maze of corridors and stairs for so long that they pass away there.