Liverpool football club players and staff observed 97 seconds of silence at their training base in Austria in tribute to Andrew Devine, 55, who died this week due to severe brain damage he suffered during the Hillsborough crash in 1989.
Andre Rebello, the chief coroner for Liverpool, ruled that Devine died directly from the brain injuries “which were to prove fatal 32 years later”, and that he was legally the 97th victim of the disaster.
In his ruling, Rebello determined that Devine’s cause of death was the same as that of the 96 other people who died after the crash in the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on Wednesday . The jury in further inquiries into the Warrington disaster concluded on April 26, 2016 that the 96 were unlawfully killed due to the gross negligence of the South Yorkshire Police Officer in charge of the match, Superintendent David Duckenfield.
Citing the new legal standard of proof for investigations, Rebello said: “I find it more likely than not that Andrew Devine was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th death since the events of April 15, 1989. “
Devine, 22 when he went to Hillsborough to support Liverpool, had been cared for for the next 32 years by his parents, Hilary and Stanley, a retired police inspector, three sisters and a brother, and caregivers . The family have remained close to Liverpool football club, took Andrew to home games at Anfield, and in 2019 the team bus drove past the Devines house to show Andrew the European League trophy champions.
“We have lost an incredible person,” said Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, “someone who showed us all what it is to fight and who refused to give in even when we did. expected that he couldn’t fight anymore.
“We are sad for Andrew, we are sad for his wonderful family who have taken care of him for so long and we are sad for the whole Liverpool family because another life has been cut short by Hillsborough. “
The news, announced by the family and the club together, drew the attention of many to the wider, catastrophic, physical and psychological impact of the disaster. More than 400 people trapped in the crash had to be hospitalized, many with broken arms, legs and ribs, while some also suffered brain damage from the loss of oxygen. Doctors during the inquiries explained that most of those who died suffered from compression asphyxiation, after being unable to expand their chests to breathe.
Tony Bland, 18 when he traveled to Hillsborough, suffered brain damage from a loss of oxygen that left him in a persistent vegetative state, and he became the 96th death in 1993 when a court authorized the withdrawal of his life support.
Some crash survivors lost consciousness and remained in a coma for several days before recovering, suffering long-term hardship and disability. A survivor, Gillian Edwards, told 2015 inquiries that she suffered a “serious brain injury” and was in a coma for five days. She was “totally blind” when she woke up in the hospital, she said, and although she regained some of her sight, she remained impaired.
Recognition has also grown for the severe psychological and emotional trauma caused by the disaster and by the false account of the South Yorkshire Police, who have relentlessly sought to blame the victims, the Liverpool supporters, rather than admit the own failures of strength.
The Hillsborough Survivors Support Alliance, formed in 2019, worked with a psychotherapist to develop therapy for survivors and others affected by the disaster and the police cover-up. Peter Scarfe, its chairman, says 81 people have so far managed to access therapy, which is not available through the NHS. The fact that the police blame the victims themselves has been a “massive part” of people’s trauma, Scarfe says.
Richie Greaves, a survivor who was 23 at the time, said the disaster remained a “lived experience” for him and his family.
“It has been three decades that you have to constantly defend yourself,” he said. “As survivors, we must continue to dispel the lies, for people who have never made it home or who cannot speak because they are still traumatized. “
Cathy Long, a family friend of Andrew Devine who has remained close to them throughout the years they have cared for him, said of the impact of the disaster: For 32 years. Losing someone is horrible, but it has been made worse for people by the lies told about them, the lack of justice, and the fact that it’s a very public event, so there are constant reminders. It also stole a lot of time from families. “
Duckenfield was acquitted of a criminal charge of manslaughter by gross negligence in November 2019. Two former South Yorkshire policemen and the former police lawyer were formally acquitted of obstructing the course of justice after that a judge stopped their trial in May.
In June, South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police, the force designated to investigate the disaster, agreed to pay compensation for the psychological trauma caused to 600 family members and survivors by the lies and cover-up of the police.