Hillsborough victim, 20, tried to escape crush with friends

Stephen Copoc, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.
Stephen Copoc, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.
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A 20-year-old victim of the Hillsborough disaster made an attempt to get out of crushing on the terraces, a court heard.

Stephen Copoc was among the 96 Liverpool supporters who died at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989.

He was at the match with friends Anthony Smith and Anthony Burrows and entered the ground after Exit Gate C was opened in the minutes before kick-off and was ‘carried along’ into Pen Three.

Mr Smith, who passed out in the pen and was later taken to hospital, told the new inquests: “When we got in and the crush started, because Stephen and Tony were taller than me, they noticed that Pen Four was quite empty and said ‘Make your way towards Pen Four’ and that’s when the next sudden surge come, and then I didn’t see them again.”

Mr Burrows, who has since died, said in his statement that he was forced towards the front of the pen.

He said: “I was still with Tony and Stephen at this time, and I tried to turn to say to them that we should go over to our right to try and escape the crush.

“We tried but couldn’t get over there and we were pushed back into the crux of the crowd.”

Robert Crookes, who was a PC in South Yorkshire Police in 1989, said he and colleague Andrew West had gone to resuscitate Stephen after seeing him on the pitch, near the goal at the Leppings Lane end.

Mr Crookes added: “We went at it hell for leather, and at first we thought he was coming round.”

He said the officers eventually realised their efforts were ‘futile’.

Stephen was pronounced dead in the stadium gym at 4.05pm and identified by his father the following morning.