Socialist Worker

Hillsborough boy was alive among dead, inquests hear

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2434

A Hillsborough memorial

A Hillsborough memorial (Pic: Ben Sutherland/Flickr)


A leading ambulance worker pulled a boy out alive from a pile of dead bodies during the Hillsborough football disaster.

Peter Litster worked for the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service at the time of the disaster in 1989.

Some 96 Liverpool football fans died as a result of a crush at the Sheffield stadium.

Litster gave evidence to fresh inquests into their deaths on Monday of this week.

He described to the jury the boy he discovered.

“It was a young person of about 13 years of age,” he told the jury.

“He was in the second row of bodies and was moving. So I got hold of him and pulled him out, realising he wasn’t actually a person who was deceased.

“He was actually laying on top of his father. He was calling out, ‘Dad’.”

Litster said that this occurred on his second visit to the ground during the disaster, shortly after 3.55pm. The match was stopped because of the crush at 3.06pm.

Litster said he told a doctor in attendance to check the other bodies to make sure “that they were in fact deceased”.

He was asked if he could confirm “whether any one or any combination of those casualties were in fact dead, as opposed to unconscious and lying prone”.

He replied, “I relied on the doctor on scene.”

Terrible 

Litster described the organisation of the emergency response as “terrible”.

He said a senior police officer, David Jones, did not do enough to help organise the response or help survivors.

At one point Litster described Jones “leaning against the wall outside gate C, banging his personal radio against the wall”.

And at another point, “He was just stood there”.

Litster told the inquests he was told that he could not put “one or two details” into his statement following the disaster. These “were about senior officers”.

He agreed that his full story wasn’t told “because of the degree of intimidation and pressure” by those taking his statement.

The jury heard that Litster’s statement had been altered.

He said he hadn’t been involved in making amendments and agreed that the altered statement did not accurately reflect his account.

Litster’s statement didn’t include the fact that he had found a live child among the dead.

And he agreed that it was “diluted because it doesn’t contain the criticism of the officers that you would have made had you been able to give a free-flowing account”.

Questioning revealed the enormous difference made by having a qualified medical professional attend to the injured.

But Litster said there was no senior officer where he was directing the response.

Litster was told of evidence given to a previous inquiry. This described him as being instructed to assume the position of duty officer at the Leppings Lane end of the ground.

He agreed that this didn’t Litster doing this on his own initiative and was not due to any direction or command.

He also agreed that this previous evidence gave the impression that this occurred during his first visit to the ground which was “totally incorrect”.

The inquests continue.


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