...By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
Friends of a talented teenage footballer, Luke Bennett, have shared their harrowing experience of the moment disaster struck while they were playing around on a football pitch near overhead power cables.
Luke, who had showcased his skills at various football academies, had spent the afternoon at Euxton Villa FC with seven close friends on March 6, 2021.
Mishap on the Pitch:
Luke and two others were engaged in playful activities with a metal pole used to separate the substitutes’ bench from the 11-a-side pitch.
In an attempt to stand the pole upright, it either made contact with or came dangerously close to the 11,000-volt overhead power lines, resulting in an electrical discharge.
All three individuals fell to the ground, and while Luke initially regained his footing, he collapsed again around 6pm.
The two other boys eventually regained consciousness, but tragically, Luke passed away at the scene.
Contradicting Earlier Claims:
Initial speculation suggested that the boys were trying to retrieve a football from a pond.
However, during the ongoing inquest at County Hall in Preston, testimony from the other seven teenagers revealed that Luke and his friends were actually “messing about” with the pole.
One of the teenagers, Ben Doherty, provided a statement to the police, explaining that they were given permission by the groundsman to use the back pitches.
Ben believed that the pole they were handling was part of the barrier system for subs to enter and exit the pitch.
He described the moment when they attempted to stand the pole upright, witnessing sparks and a burning smell.
All three boys collapsed to the ground, with Ben and Lewis appearing unconscious.
Desperate Efforts and Emergency Response:
Luke’s friends immediately called emergency services, who advised them not to touch Luke due to the ongoing danger posed by the live power lines.
The first responder, a police officer, arrived at the scene, followed by paramedics who initiated CPR and used a defibrillator.
Sadly, the defibrillator indicated no cardiac activity in Luke’s heart.
Medical Professionals’ Testimony:
Karen McCabe, a paramedic with 11 years of experience, arrived at 6:22pm.
Due to incorrect information initially provided to the emergency services, there was a 10-minute delay in reaching Euxton Villa.
Dr. Matthew Spence from the North West Air Ambulance confirmed the mix-up but stated that it did not impact his timely arrival.
Despite all efforts, the medics on-site were unable to revive Luke’s heart, leading them to consider stopping CPR and certifying his death.
Dr. Ian Schofield, a consultant cardiologist, provided expert evidence during the inquest.
He explained that electrocution can cause either a disrupted heart rhythm that returns to normal, as observed in Lewis and Ben, or it can damage the heart, resulting in an irregular electrical current that stops the heart from beating, as in Luke’s case.
Dr. Schofield emphasized that immediate CPR within approximately 10 minutes of cardiac arrest is crucial for a chance of survival.
Unfortunately, resuscitation for Luke began approximately 22 minutes after the incident, reducing the chances of success.
The Importance of Prompt Action:
Dr. Schofield highlighted that if CPR does not restart the heart within 20 to 30 minutes, it is almost always unsuccessful.
Any attempts lasting longer than 30 minutes are invariably unsuccessful.
He assured Luke’s parents that their son would have experienced no pain other than the initial shock of electrocution.
Immediate CPR and the availability of a defibrillator at the club could have significantly increased Luke’s chances of survival, although the voltage itself does not determine survival rates.
The inquest, which will conclude on May 24, has shed light on the tragic accident that claimed Luke Bennett’s life.
The testimonies and expert insights provided serve as a reminder of the critical importance of taking a safe approach and prompt action during incidents involving electricity, emphasizing the need for proper precautions and awareness to prevent such devastating accidents from occurring in the future.