‘How I tried to save my daughters at Hillsborough’

Vicki and Sarah Hicks died in the Hillsborough tragedy.  Today their father Trevor Hicks and his former wife Jenni told the inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans how their daughters died ''in horrific circumstances''. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Vicki and Sarah Hicks died in the Hillsborough tragedy. Today their father Trevor Hicks and his former wife Jenni told the inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans how their daughters died ''in horrific circumstances''. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
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THE father of two sisters crushed to death at the Hillsborough disaster has given harrowing evidence to an inquest into the tragedy, telling how he battled to save them on the pitch.

Sarah Hicks, 19, and her younger sister Victoria, 15, had been standing in the central pens behind the goal on the Leppings Lane terrace on the FA Cup semi-final match day in Sheffield after being separated from their father, Trevor.

Trevor Hicks leaves the Hillsborough inquest after giving evidence

Trevor Hicks leaves the Hillsborough inquest after giving evidence

Wearing a red “96” commemorative badge on his suit, Mr Hicks told the Hillsborough inquest sitting in Warrington that he called out their names as he gave them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions as they lay side by side.

He spoke of the heartbreaking moment he had “no choice” but to leave his elder daughter on the pitch as he carried Vicki into an ambulance, saying that he felt “dreadful”.

Liverpool University student Sarah and her “football mad” sister Vicki had travelled to the ground on April 15 1989 with their parents Trevor and Jenni.

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I have always been taught that one of the last things that goes is the hearing so I was calling their names as well in the hope that you know they’d know we were there.

Trevor Hicks

‘Sisters held on to each other as they died at Hillsborough’

Today Mr Hicks relived the moment he saw the “limp form” of his youngest daughter being passed over a fence on to the pitch after the surge.

As he made his way down from his position in the south-west terrace underneath the police box he found both of his daughters lying side by side.

He said: “I was going to do everything possible and everyone else seemed to be doing that. If they had a chance they were going to get it.

“I have always been taught that one of the last things that goes is the hearing so I was calling their names as well in the hope that you know they’d know we were there.”

The inquest heard that Mr Hicks was orchestrating a “little squad” in supervising and encouraging others in the care of his girls.

“I was doing what I thought was best. I spent most of my time on Victoria but there was a group of us, it was a case of swapping around between the two girls, swapping who was doing mouth-to-mouth and who was doing the heart compressions.”

He added that he had to clear Vicki’s airways by sucking the vomit from her throat and had seen her chest rising as he did so.

The inquest was told that once an ambulance arrived on the pitch Mr Hicks carried Vicki “literally in our arms”, assisted by another, before turning to get Sarah.

However another casualty was to be lifted into the ambulance, but Mr Hicks was assured more help was coming for Sarah and thus left in the ambulance.

Mr Hicks said of his daughters, “as far as I was concerned they hadn’t gone”.

“My concern was to get Sarah into the ambulance once Vicki was in it. I was then faced with the awful choice of leaving Sarah, who I was assured would be placed in the next ambulance which was apparently coming. It was chaos, basically everybody was looking after their casualty, or in my case, casualties.

“I felt dreadful. I had no choice, I appreciate that, but it doesn’t stop you feeling dreadful about it.”

On the way to the Northern General Hospital Mr Hicks and policeman Peter McGuinness continued CPR on Vicki and he said he believed she had a faint pulse.

There he was to be told that his youngest daughter had passed away and his “immediate attention switched back to Sarah”.

The inquest heard that he had split from the girls in order to get a programme and coffee but had “an excellent view” of the pen.

“I’d obviously been seeing what was going on for some time. I was calling up to the police officer to do something about it.

“I had a good view of the pen. It was clear that there were extreme circumstances in the pen. I could see three and a little bit of four - I knew they were roughly there.

“I was looking down and could see that there were people in extreme distress. It was clear the attitude from the police officer wasn’t going anywhere so we carried on shouting up at them.”

In a statement from 1989 following the disaster, he said: “I saw the limp form of my youngest daughter being passed over the barrier.”

But by the time he got to the pitch both daughters were lying on the touchline to the right of the goal, “effectively next to each other” and “head to head, no more than 18 inches”.

He told the inquest that Sarah was receiving assistance and that with his basic knowledge of first aid through his mechanical engineering job he began giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but said there had not been a reaction.

He added that he had a “burning memory” of a young St John Ambulance boy of around 15 years of age: “The poor lad was in a worse state than me.”

He earlier described his daughter Sarah as a “classic A student” and that Vicki had been “determined to be a sports writer”, producing secret match reports from their Middlesex home after every trip to Anfield.

Anthony Garratty, who was a steward at the match, said he witnessed Vicki “moaning and groaning” on the pitch and added that he had been “100% right that she was alive”.

He told the inquest: “She was moving her head from side to side and she was coughing up what I would call crisps.”

When asked why in his 1989 statement that it was not mentioned that Vicki had been moaning and groaning, he said: “Maybe because half of my statement was missing. Lots of stuff that I said to the police, they hadn’t wrote down.”

He said that a St John Ambulance man had come to the scene and a policeman asked him for oxygen.

The policeman was to then ask a fireman, who handed over an oxygen cylinder.

But Mr Garratty, who broke down whilst giving his evidence, said: “The oxygen bottle was empty. The fireman said there was nothing in it, he had already used it on other casualties.”

He added: “I grieve every day for everyone here and I have come here even though it’s hurt me so much. It’s like Groundhog Day every day, reliving it.”

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‘Sisters held on to each other as they died at Hillsborough’