Socialist Worker

Hillsborough victim was alive after match was stopped, inquest hears

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2480

A 19 year old victim of the Hillsborough football disaster was alive after the match had been stopped, inquests have heard.

Some 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush at the ground in April 1989.

Medical expert professor Jerry Nolan gave evidence to fresh inquests into the deaths on Monday of this week.

He said evidence gave a “reasonably firm anchor” that victim Sarah Hicks was alive between 3.06pm and 3.08pm on the day of the disaster.

Fan Brian Doyle had earlier told the inquests that he grabbed Sarah’s hand and tried to pull her out of the crush in pen 3. He said she was conscious and looked frightened.

Brian was pictured standing on the fence between 3.06pm and 3.08pm. Nolan said he believed Sarah died sometime after 3.06pm.

Footage showed Sarah being carried out of pen 3 at 3.27pm – around 20 minutes after she was said to be alive in the pen. Nolan agreed that Sarah could have lived had she been taken out of the pen sooner and given medical support.

The court also heard that Sarah’s 15 year old sister Vicki, who also died due to the crush, could have had a heartbeat when she was in a pile of casualties.

Fan Paul Taylor saw Vicki in the pile and covered her face as he thought she had died. Nolan told the inquests, “It is very possible he could have missed shallow breathing and it is possible that Vicki still had a heartbeat at that stage.”

He said he thought Vicki was “most likely” to have been in cardiorespiratory arrest at the time.

Vicki’s dad Trevor Hicks travelled with her in an ambulance to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital. He said ambulanceman Tony Edwards told him he had found a pulse in Vicki during the journey.

Possible

Nolan said it was possible Vicki’s pulse had returned but said he thought it was “really very unlikely”.

The court also heard that 27 year old victim Gary Harrison may have been alive when he was lying on the pitch after the crush. Gary was carried from the pen at 3.28pm and was carried on an advertising hoarding to the gym at 3.29pm.

Intensive care expert Dr Jasmeet Soar agreed that when Gary was taken from the pen he could have been breathing and may have had a pulse. He said Gary’s position could “potentially” have been jeopardised by being carried on his back.

Pathologist Dr Nat Cary agreed last week that 26 year old victim Paul Hewitson could also have been alive while he was in a “pile of bodies” following the crush. He agreed that, if that was the case, Paul’s life could have been saved had he been taken out of the pile sooner.

The court heard that a post mortem report for 18 year old victim Christopher Devonside showed increased brain weight and a swollen brain.

Cary agreed that the findings indicated “potential for longer survival up to and beyond an hour”. He told the court, “A great elevation in brain weight would tend to suggest that someone had survived for more than an hour if that elevation in brain weight was due to genuine cerebral oedema.

“It does raise the possibility of prolonged survival.”

The inquests continue.


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