A Hillsborough campaigner has recalled the moment he identified the bodies of his two teenage daughters who were killed in the ‘chaos’ and ‘mayhem’ of the disaster.
Trevor Hicks was on the Leppings Lane terrace when he realised fans were being crushed in pens behind the goals where his daughters, Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, were standing.
The Liverpool season ticket holder and his former wife Jenni, who was sitting in another part of the ground, had travelled from their home in Middlesex for the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
Once inside the ground his teenage daughters had ‘given him the slip’ and gone to stand in pens behind the goal with young friends rather than ‘having their old man around’ who stood in another part of the terraces, Mr Hicks told the Hillsborough inquest.
His daughters were among the 96 Liverpool fans crushed to death in the central pens behind the goal on the Leppings Lane terrace as the match began.
Mr Hicks, who became a key figure in the Hillsborough Family Support Group, told the inquest in Warrington ten minutes before the 3pm kick off from his position on the terrace he realised there was a serious problem of crushing in the central pens.
He said: “Some things burn in your memory but I saw an old chap, because I was much younger then, grey haired like me in a grey suit.
“He really looked like he was dying stood up and looked unconscious and other people around him looked in distress.”
Mr Hicks was standing on the terrace below the police control box and had tried to alert an officer to what was happening.
He said: “We were calling up at him and then as I reported several times, he eventually turned to me and told me to, ‘shut my f*****g prattle’.”
Mr Hicks said he saw a girl with Doc Marten boots and long curly hair being passed over the fence onto the pitch - and recognised it was his daughter Victoria.
He got onto the pitch where he described the condition as ‘chaos’ and found both his daughters laid out side by side.
Two men were giving mouth to mouth and chest compressions to Sarah and he joined another man attempting to revive his other daughter Victoria.
Mr Hicks said it was ‘mayhem on the pitch’ with no medical assistance or equipment except for a teenage St John’s Ambulance cadet who was in a ‘worse state’ than he was.
He went in an ambulance with Victoria to the Northern General Hospital after being assured Sarah would be in the next ambulance.
His daughter had a ‘flicker of a pulse’ and was taken into a cubicle at the hospital.
Mr Hicks continued: “I was kicked out, as I expected, and about 10 to 15 minutes later PC McGuinness told me she was dead.
“As soon as I knew there was nothing I could do for Vicky my attention turned to find Sarah and what I could do for her.
“Again it was utter chaos in the hospital, people milling everywhere, there was casualties, bodies, people, police officers.
“The hospital staff were all over the place.”
Mr Hicks said he was reunited with his wife and they went to find Sarah at a ‘casualty bureau’ in the gym at Hillsborough, which was being used by police as a temporary mortuary.
They were taken into a room with a police officer pinning Polaroid photos of the dead on to a wall.
Mr Hicks continued: “Jenni actually said to him, ‘So many?’
“The police officer there said, ‘They’re not all there yet love’ and that obviously hit us like a brick.”
Among the photos was a picture of their other daughter Sarah.
Mr Hicks said: “Basically they brought the girls out on to trolleys.
“They unzipped the body bags so we could identify them formally.
Mr Hicks said he then gave a statement to police and was repeatedly asked about how much they’d had to drink before the couple travelled back to their home in the south.
He said the next day they were ‘besieged by the press’.
Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquests, put it to Mr Hicks that following the disaster he had a ‘number of questions and concerns’ and he became a key figure in the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
Mr Hicks said the Taylor Inquiry into the disaster, ‘dealt with most things’ but the first inquests, concluding in 1991 ‘tried to re-write it’.
After a long campaign by the victims’ families, the original inquest verdict of accidental death was quashed in the High Court in 2012, leading to the fresh inquests now being held in Warrington.
Michael Mansfield QC, representing the families of some of the victims, said some earlier witnesses had suggested Liverpool fans were ‘blind drunk’ and asked Mr Hicks if he had any recollection of that.
Mr Hicks said: “No. I’ll probably get told off, but it really does brass me off to have to listen to that.”
Coroner Lord Justice Goldring replied: “I’m not going to tell you off Mr Hicks.”
Mr Mansfield asked about suggestions of Liverpool fans “pushing and shoving” to get into the ground an hour before kick off.
Mr Hicks said: “Again, I say nonsense. I must have been at a different game.”
He was also asked about Liverpool fans having a ‘reputation’ for turning up without tickets and ‘bunking in’ football grounds.
He replied it was ‘one of the problems of football games in those days’ but Liverpool fans were ‘no different’ to any other club.
The hearing continues.