Dad calls for Gabe's Law after son falls to death from Liverpool car park

Video report by Granada Reports political correspondent Lise McNally

The dad of a teenager who died in a fall from a multi-storey car park is calling for a change in the law to prevent future deaths.

Gabriel Santer, 15, fell from a Liverpool Q-car park in October 2020.

His dad Johnny is now campaigning to increase the minimum height of barriers on top of car parks through the Multi-Storey Car Parks (Safety) Bill, known as Gabe’s Law.

Johnny is now campaigning for a law to prevent future deaths. Credit: ITV Granada

Remembering the night when Gabe died, Johnny said: "We had that call that every parent dreads really. I'd been out looking for him because he missed his curfew time.

"It was deep shock. It's so surreal. The shock lasts for a long time."

A draft copy of the proposed Gabe's Law Bill. Credit: ITV Granada

Johnny said: "We need a change in the law. I've been pleading to improve safety standards. I'm asking the government to act now. It's a simple fix and it will prevent future deaths.

"Gabe's Law will mean he didn't die in vain. We need to stop these tragedies happening in future, these deaths are preventable."

Johnny said he knew of at least two other incidents similar to Gabe's. In 2012, Ahmad Doumani Khan fell from a car park in Sheffield, while another woman fell from a car park in Liverpool in November 2022.

  • Maria Eagle MP became tearful as she introduced the bill to parliament on 28 February.

In February the family’s MP, Labour's Maria Eagle, introduced the bill to parliament.

She told the Commons there had been at least 17 cases in the past 12 months where people had died in the same circumstances.

Speaking to ITV Granada Reports, the Garston and Halewood MP said: "It's just such a tragedy. Gabe has his whole life in front of him and in a flash he's gone.

"I don't think the operator of car parks take the safety on top of the building seriously enough, they do the absolute minimum."

When he was eight-years-old, Gabe made film reviews for 'Kids Corner' on Bay TV. Credit: ITV Granada

Gabe's family are holding a party to remember the teenager, who would have been celebrating his 18th birthday in July.

"Gabe was super sociable, he was very loving," Johnny said.

"He would greet people with a big bear hug. He always concerned about people's wellbeing. He always telling people that he loved you.

"I told the managing director of Q-Park I think Gabriel would forgive them. It's who he was."

The car park in Liverpool on Hanover Street where Gabriel fell. Credit: ITV Granada

A coroner recorded an open conclusion at the teenager's inquest, which heard he had been with friends at the time.

A Q-Park statement said: "The death of Gabriel Santer is a tragedy and we are deeply sorry for their loss and have expressed this to the Santer family directly.

"We take safety at our sites extremely seriously, which is why the Hanover Street car park outperformed required building regulations. Additionally, an independent panel has determined no wrongdoing on the part of Q-Park in these tragic circumstances.

"Whilst we are understanding and sympathetic with the motivations behind proposals for further safeguarding of high level structures, we regret that several inaccuracies are being put forward in Parliament about Q-Park that undermine these good intentions.

"The British Parking Association represents the industry and will, we are sure, welcome constructive and genuine dialogue with Parliamentarians and all interested parties."

A statement from The British Parking Association (BPA) said: "We have offered to work with Maria Eagle because we support the essence of this bill.

"The BPA is already actively working with Government in the wider review of Building Regulations.

"Additionally, we publish advice and guidance to members on many aspects of car park design, including preventing falls from multi-story parking facilities.

We will continue to do this in partnership with the authorities and agencies who have relevant expertise and experience."

Q-Park say they support the essence of the bill. Credit: ITV Granada

Kelvin Reynolds, BPA Chief Technical Services and Governance Officer said: “We regularly engage with Government about the Building Regulations associated with the design and building of car parks.

“All of Britain’s car parks are designed and managed with the safety of the users and their vehicles in mind.

"Occasionally, it’s not clear why people have fallen from a car park. Sadly, across the entire parking sector, suicides or attempted suicides arise from time to time.

"This is why we publish advice and guidance to our members on the risks and management of suicide in parking facilities.

"We agree everything that can reasonably be done to minimise the risks should be done and that is why are keen to work with Maria Eagle MP as she promotes her Bill."

Our correspondent Lise McNally told us how the changes may happen without a change in the law.

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