Thursday, April 16, 2009

Emotional Tales From Hillsborough

This is the follow up to yesterday article - Hillsborough Remembered.

Eddie Spearritt, Survivor who lost his 14-year-old son, Adam
There was a policeman on the track. He must have been five or six feet away from me. I was screaming and begging him to open the perimeter gate. You can scream your head off when you’re screaming for your son’s life. I was right at the front and I'm screaming that Adam had fainted, I think at one stage I even said he was dying, but he didn't open the gate. I woke up in hospital on Sunday evening to find that Adam had died.

Trevor Hicks, Lost both his daughters, Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15
I was profoundly and forcibly transformed by Hillsborough. Within a few hours I had lost everything of real value, my daughters Sarah and Victoria, my status and responsibilities of Dad and Husband, my respect for the British establishment and any reason to look and plan for 'the future'. All my values and beliefs were shattered. Years on I am slowly rebuilding a different life, trying to 'make the best of a bad job'. I still hurt like hell and keep wanting what cannot be, but like it or not, life will go on, Mother Earth keeps revolving, time doesn't heal, you just get better at dealing with it.

Chris Mann, Survivor
Being afraid happens to us all. That day, for a few minutes in those enclosures, everybody shared the same fear. I survived because somebody went under a barrier. I was pushed up against it with no way of lifting myself over. My ribs felt like they were about to snap at any second and my lungs were on fire. I reached out and pushed up on the nearest thing. As I was pushing myself up, I looked round and realised that I was pushing someone else down. I wanted to stop, but I knew if I did, I would go down with him. So I didn't stop, and he went down, and I still don't know if I killed him.

Neil Fitzmaurice, Survivor
We were pushed forward into the pens and we just hit the fans like a wedge. It's at this point I realised how out of control things had become. Then I realised I was basically paralysed from the neck down. I had no control over my body. The panic hit me because fans were building up behind me. You'd move five or six feet and then there'd be another crush. I couldn't see the game - all I could see were heads. My senses were being attacked - touch, sight and sound. The noise was deafening and I'd forgotten there was a game on. People were starting to fall and if you fell you didn't get back up. It was blind panic.

Fans were trying to climb over the chicken wire fences and I distinctly remember many being thrown back in by the police. The crush intensified and I looked round and saw people fainting. Some were lifted in the air and it was as if they were floating.

I was only seconds away from losing consciousness. I silently did a deal with God, looking up and telling Him: "Get me out and I'll go to church every day." It sounds ridiculous now. Someone near me was trying to lift themselves up and as he did his elbow ended up in my throat. It wasn't his fault, he was just trying to get out. I moved my head and he lost his balance, so he put his hand on my shoulder and I was pushed back. This meant I pushed the guy in front of me and he fell. For one reason or another there was suddenly some room. There was a guy next to me with a Crown Paints Liverpool top. He was about 40-odd and I was 17. I grabbed his arm and we started moving towards the steps in between the pens that led to the pitch - but the safety gate designed to ease congestion was locked. We started lifting some people over the fence. There was this guy - he was purple and grey. I presumed he was unconscious but it turned out he was dead. As we lifted him up I told him to get onto the pitch once he was over the fence, but as soon as we let go of him he just thudded to the floor. That's when I knew we had to get out of there. I climbed onto barrier, down and onto the pitch. I fell on my back and I distinctly remember a completely blue sky. I totally switched off from everything going on around me.

Other Survivors
I couldn't believe what was going on. No one could move, not an inch. People around me were contorted in whatever position they'd been compressed. Heads were locked between arms and shoulders, the faces gasping in panic.

I was bent forward, from the waist, my full weight pressing down on people in front of me. At first the pain in my back was sharp but then it was in my chest. Suddenly, I knew I was going to die.

I realised that the guy next to me was dead, his eyes were bulging and his tongue out. It was sheer horror.

I saw a young boy go down and knew that was it for him. He went under people's feet but no one could do anything about it. The pressure was so great.

Fans screamed at the police on the perimeter track to open the small evacuation gates on to the pitch, but they just seemed transfixed. They did nothing. As fans tried to climb the overhanging perimeter fence, officers on the track pushed them back into the crowd.

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