Socialist Worker

Hillsborough Inquests hear that better treatment may have helped some victims survive

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2482

Inquests into the deaths of fans who died due to the Hillsborough disaster have heard that better treatment may have helped some victims survive.

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

The court heard on Monday of this week that 19 year old victim Colin Wafer may have died after being trapped in a pile of bodies.

Colin’s autopsy report didn’t show as many of the classic signs of asphyxia as that of other victims.

Dr Cary said this could indicate “smothering”. He added, “When you put that into the factual setting of him being entrapped in a pile of bodies, that may be highly relevant.”

The court also heard that signs of life may have been missed in victims Vincent Fitzsimmons and David Hawley. A police officer listened to Vincent’s chest for a heartbeat. Dr Soar said this would not have been reliable.

A post-mortem report for victim Arthur Horrocks showed bruising on his arms suggesting he had been gripped. Dr Cary said this could have occurred when Arthur was lifted from the pen or recovered from a pile of bodies. He said the bruising suggested Arthur “may have had an active circulation”.

The court heard on Friday of last week that victim Henry Burke may have been alive after 3.15pm. This was the cut off point for evidence in the original inquests.

Ambulance

Fan Ian Johnson said Henry appeared to move his head while he was in the pen and while a St John Ambulance was on the pitch. The ambulance drove onto the pitch at 3.15pm.

The court also heard that Henry’s airway could have been “compromised” because he was lying on his back after the crush.

A post-mortem report for 18 year old victim Carl Lewis recorded brain swelling. This could indicate that he was alive for an hour or longer following the crush.

And the inquests heard evidence that 29 year old victim Christopher Edwards could have been breathing just before he was picked up in pen 3.

Footage showed Chris being carried in pen 3 at 3.27pm. Professor Jerry Nolan said if evidence that he was breathing was correct, this may indicate that Chris had a heartbeat at the time. He agreed that Chris was given CPR too late.

The court heard that police officer David Roe could have missed signs of life in victim Francis McAllister.

Roe said he felt for a pulse but didn’t find one. Professor Nolan said that a single pulse check “is not particularly reliable to confirm death”.

He said Francis could have been in cardiac arrest when Roe assessed him but also that Roe “may have missed a pulse that was present”.

The inquests also heard that police officer Roger Haigh felt a movement when checking the neck of 19 year old victim Gary Church. Gary was carried onto the pitch at 3.25pm and officers tried to resuscitate him.

Nolan said convulsions or twitches sometimes occurred at the time of death and agreed that Gary could have been in cardiac arrest.

The inquests continue


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