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I crawled over a pile of bodies to reach Eric; POLICE OFFICER RECALLS THE HORROR OF PEN THREE AS HE TRIED IN VAIN TO SAVE MERSEY FATHER-OF-TWO, 33.

Byline: ELEANOR BARLOW ECHO Reporter eleanor.barlow@trinitymirror.com eleanor.barlow@

A POLICE officer who tried to resuscitate a dad-of-two at Hillsborough had to "scramble and crawl" over bodies to get into the pens, the inquests heard.

The court, in Birchwood Park, Warrington, heard evidence about the last moments of 33-year-old Eric Hankin, from Maghull.

Richard Liversidge, an on-duty police constable, said he had gone into pen three of the Leppings Lane terrace after the crush at the semifinal on April 15, 1989.

In a notebook entry made after the disaster, he described how he "scrambled and crawled" over a pile of people at the front of the pen to get to a space on the terrace.

He told the court: "That was the only way in."

He said he tried to pull people from the back of the pile to relieve the pressure on those at the front.

In his notebook, he described pulling Eric from the "wedge" of people. He said: "I took hold of a man of about 30 years who was wearing a denim jacket and jeans.

"I began to pull him clear but I noticed straight away that he was lifeless.

"I got him clear of the crowd and, along with another officer, began to try and revive him with resuscitation.

"However, all efforts failed and so we returned to the crush."

Stephen Perry, who was also a PC, described seeing Mr Liversidge working on Eric.

He said: "I distinctly remember PC Liversidge at that time working on somebody and sweat 215 was just pouring off his nose, working on him. "So I thought, he's working hard, he must have a sign there."

He added: "I think I even heard Richard shouting at him, something like "Come on, you b****r" or something silly like that."

The court heard Eric had travelled to the match with a group of workmates from Moss Side Hospital, in Maghull, which later became Ashworth Hospital.

Friend Stephen Brown, via video link from Australia, said the group had been heading through the tunnel when exit gate C opened.

He said: "I looked back and saw the gate open and people pouring in through the gate."

The court heard that was likely to be the first opening of the gate - at 2.48pm - as footage showed Eric in pen three at 2.51pm.

In a statement read to the court, friend Mark Evans, who has since died, said: "I looked around and saw the gate next to the turnstile that I had climbed over and down and that a mass of people were surging through the gate towards the tunnel.

"We all grabbed hold of each other's shoulders and the crowd just hit us.

"I was lifted straight off my feet and, although it seems incredible, it was literally seconds before I found myself forced through the tunnel, down into the pen, and suddenly I was only four or five feet from the fencing at the front of the pen."

Ronald King, another of the group, said: "At this point when I couldn't travel any farther, I realised that a large crowd had come in behind me and I was trapped with my arms at my side."

The court heard Mr Brown had identified himself on a picture stood near Eric in the crowd at 3.02pm.

But he said he now had no recollection of seeing Eric on the terrace. He described the crush as "vicelike".

He said: "You were completely unable to draw any breath into your lungs at all. It wasn't like just normal pressure."

The court was shown footage of Eric being carried across the pitch on a hoarding at 3.30pm.

Peter Gallimore, a police constable, told the court earlier this year he had been assigned to wait with Eric in the gymnasium before a doctor confirmed death at 3.35pm.

CAPTION(S):

Eric Hankin's friend recalls the moment Gate C was opened

Eric Hankin, 33 - died at Hillsborough
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2015
Words:663
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