Liverpool

Hillsborough mother 'regrets not checking if daughter was alive'

Jenni and Trevor Hicks
Image caption Jenni and Trevor Hicks were both at the match at Hillsborough with their daughters

A mother who lost two daughters in the Hillsborough disaster has said she still regrets not asking for a doctor to check if her eldest was still alive.

Jenni Hicks was giving evidence as the inquests focused on the death of 19-year-old Sarah Hicks. Her younger sister Vicki, 15, also died.

Mrs Hicks told the jury that when she and the girls' father Trevor identified them, Sarah was "warm as toast".

The two sisters were among 96 fans fatally injured in the stadium tragedy.

They had travelled to Sheffield with their parents to watch Liverpool play Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final on 15 April 1989.

Mrs Hicks, who had been sitting in the north stand, described how she could not find the rest of her family at an agreed rendezvous point outside the stadium.

She was told by officers at a help point in the stadium there were no girls' bodies inside the temporary mortuary, but she now believes Vicki's body was already inside.

'Looking for Sarah'

The officers told her to return to her car and wait for her family there.

Mrs Hicks said their vehicle was the only car left in the car park "and there was no sign of my family".

She gave descriptions of her family to officers at a police station in Sheffield and was then asked to wait in a Boys' Club.

A social worker, Alan Dunkley, then asked if she wanted to look for them at a hospital.

Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests
Image caption Sarah and Victoria - known as Vicki - travelled to the game with their parents

She met up with Mr Hicks at the Northern General Hospital and was told that Vicki had died.

Mrs Hicks continued: "At the hospital when they told me about Vicki I asked if I could see her and I was told 'no', I wasn't allowed to see her because she was the property of the coroner of South Yorkshire, she was nothing to do with me."

The couple then returned to the stadium, where bodies of those who had died were being kept in the gymnasium.

"It's quite naive, knowing what we know now, but we thought that we were going to that temporary mortuary well - actually, you know, to identify Vicki. For whatever reason, we didn't realise that Sarah could be possibly there," Mrs Hicks said.

"We were still thinking that she could be alive and we were still looking for Sarah."

Police officers asked them to look at a pin board of photographs of those who had died.

Mrs Hicks said she "didn't want to look" and she "couldn't believe how many" there were.

When she first went through the photographs she did not recognise Sarah, but an officer said "look again, love", and she saw Sarah's picture.

The court heard Mr and Mrs Hicks asked for both girls to be brought to them so they could see them together.

Mrs Hicks continued: "I actually got down on the floor on my knees. First of all I hugged Victoria.

"She was quite cold and then I hugged Sarah and Sarah was warm as toast - and that didn't seem right.

"I looked up at the police officers who were there and said 'she's still warm' and I wanted them to do something.


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"It's one of the things that now - well, ever since then I've really regretted that I didn't insist somebody come along because I couldn't get over how warm Sarah was when I hugged her that night in the gymnasium."

The court heard that Dr Matthew Bull, from Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital, had checked Sarah and pronounced her dead at 16:20 BST.

The jury also heard about the efforts made to try to revive Sarah on the pitch after the crush.

'Devastating situation'

Russell Greaves, a detective constable who was at the match as a spectator, told the inquests how he gave first aid to Sarah on the pitch.

Andrew Lawson, an off-duty ambulance man who also tried to help Sarah, wrote in his statement that he heard the girls' father Trevor Hicks "shouting and screaming", saying "help me, they're all I've got - help me".

On Tuesday, Mr Hicks described how he gave Sarah and Vicki mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as they lay unconscious.

He told the court he moved from one to the other, shouting their names and asking for help before taking the "very difficult decision" to travel to hospital with Vicki, leaving Sarah behind.

Mr Greaves said: "I can remember I think Victoria being placed in the ambulance and our intention was to place Sarah in the ambulance, but I believe the ambulance drove off before we could do that."

The court heard there was a "rush" towards the ambulance after it drove on to the pitch. Vicki was placed inside by her father but there was not room for Sarah.

Mr Greaves said he then helped carry Sarah on a makeshift stretcher towards the stadium's gymnasium.

He continued: "When the ambulance left, people were generally shouting that there may be more ambulances at the gymnasium, so that's why we decided to run with Sarah towards the gymnasium."

He told the court he then spent five minutes again trying to revive Sarah outside the gym.

A medical team was then said to have approached Sarah and checked her over. They told Mr Greaves she was dead.

The officer continued: "I was determined that I would continue as long as I could and it was only when the medical team came that we stopped.

"It was my intention to continue to try - and it's hard to put in words - but to create some good out of such a horrendous and devastating situation."

His evidence drew a tribute from Mrs Hicks as she left the inquest venue.

Speaking outside the centre, Mrs Hicks said she "was in tears when the officer said Sarah wasn't alone when she died", adding Russell Greaves' testimony had been "one of the most heartfelt and moving moments I've ever heard from a witness and we've heard quite a few".

The inquests, sitting in Warrington, Cheshire, are due to resume on Thursday.

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