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James Polley from Winchester escaped unscathed after ceiling collapse
A Hampshire teenager has spoken of the terrifying moment a ceiling collapsed on the audience at a London theatre.
James Polley was watching a show at the Apollo Theatre when chunks of the ceiling fell on to hundreds of people below.
The 18-year-old was with his family, who were lucky to escape unscathed.
James, of Upper Brook Street, Winchester, said the incident unfolded around 40 minutes into The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
He recalls a loud crashing noise and screams before the shocked audience tried to escape the theatre.
James was watching the play with his parents Martin and Catherine, younger brother Edward and uncle Richard Polley.
He said: “I heard a tidal wave effect and then suddenly I heard screaming, which I thought was part of the play.
“There was a really loud crumbling noise and a couple of large chunks of the ceiling came down. I couldn’t see what was in front of me because of the dust.
“There was no option to run, but quickly and calmly the people got out.
“It was obvious the ceiling had fallen down.
“On the way to the theatre there had been torrential rain for about half an hour and I am thinking that could be the cause of it.
“I had taken my shoes off in the theatre because they were so wet, so I had to leave bare-foot.”
Thirteen-year-old Edward was treated for shock and Mr Polley had to wear a tin foil blanket to ease shock symptoms.
He added: “I do feel lucky. It was quite surreal because everyone was in full evening wear.
“I saw one person put on to a stretcher with what was a neck injury and there was quite a few people bleeding a lot.
“The emergency services were brilliant and I’d like to praise everyone that helped out.”
The emergency services were at the scene within minutes of the collapse, which happened on Thursday evening.
A total of 76 people were hurt when the ornate plaster work fell during the production and an investigation is under way into the cause of the incident.
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