‘Petrified’ teenager pleaded for help in Hillsborough crush

Gary Church, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.
Gary Church, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

A teenager who died at Hillsborough was ‘petrified’ and pleading for help in his final moments as supporters were crushed on the terraces, one of his friends has said.

Gary Church, 19, died alongside friends Simon Bell, 17, and Christopher Devonside, 18, at the FA Cup semi-final in 1989 which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters.

Christopher Devonside, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

Christopher Devonside, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

James Thomas, a friend of the three who had been in Pen Three with them, said Simon and Christopher moved away from him after a crowd surge but he saw Gary as he was pushed up against a crush barrier.

He told the new inquests in Warrington Gary was asking him for help and looked ‘very distressed’.

Mr Thomas said: “He shouted my nickname, Dava, ‘Dava help me’, he said ‘I’m dying’, he said, ‘Help me’ and I said ‘I can’t, I can’t move’.

“I couldn’t help him because I was in the same position as him, which was fighting for his life. I’ll never forget the look on his face.”

Simon Bell, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

Simon Bell, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

He said the crush barrier then gave way and he saw Gary briefly disappear under the crowd, but did not see him again.

Mr Thomas added: “He was frightened. He was very, very scared. He looked in fear of his life, absolutely petrified.”

Jason Kenworthy, who travelled to the match with Christopher and his dad Barry Devonside, said he had been next to the 18-year-old in Pen Three.

He said Christopher had wanted to move from their position as he was ‘distressed’ by the amount of people in the pen.

Mr Kenworthy said he lost sight of his friend when there was a ‘huge surge’. He later saw Christopher lying on the pitch and helped to carry him to the gymnasium on an advertising hoarding.

Michael Sykes, a police officer who helped carry Simon out of the pen, said he believed the teenager was dead as he was taken off the terraces. William Bell, another police officer who helped supporters carry Simon on an advertising hoarding, said he was cold to the touch and appeared dead.