A Hillsborough survivor who repeatedly proved doctors wrong for 32 years after suffering horrendous injuries in the disaster has died at the age of 55.
Andrew Devine, from Mossley Hill, was 22 years old when he went to watch Liverpool take on Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi final played in Sheffield on 15 April 1989.
A coroner’s inquest in Liverpool today ruled he was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster, making him the 97th victim.
Andrew was not expected to survive the day after his chest was crushed and his brain deprived of oxygen in the lethal crush which saw 96 fellow Liverpool supporters unlawfully killed in Britain’s worst ever sporting disaster.
Having made it through the first crucial 24 hours, his parents were warned he would probably be dead within six months and they later learned nobody who had suffered such injuries had survived beyond eight years.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak and able to eat only puréed food, the love and support of Andrew’s family kept him going but this evening they released a statement confirming he had passed away.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak and able to eat only puréed food, the love and support of Andrew’s family kept him going but this evening they released a statement confirming he had passed away
It read: ‘It is with great sadness and a sense of immense loss that we can confirm that Andrew Devine passed away yesterday at the premature age of 55.
‘Our collective devastation is overwhelming but so too is the realisation that we were blessed to have had Andrew with us for 32 years since the Hillsborough tragedy.
‘We welcome the conclusion of the coroner, Mr Andre Rebello, made today at Liverpool Coroner’s Court, that Andrew was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality of the tragic events that occurred on April 15, 1989.
‘In the intervening years, Andrew has been a much loved son, brother and uncle. He has been supported by his family and a team of dedicated carers, all of whom devoted themselves to him.
‘As ever, our thoughts are with all of those affected by Hillsborough.
‘We would ask that our privacy is respected at this sad time.’
1989: Supporters are crushed against the barrier as disaster strikes before the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest played at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield
Liverpool FC also released a statement which said, ‘Liverpool Football Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Andrew Devine, who died yesterday at the age of 55.
‘A lifelong Liverpool supporter, Andrew continued to attend matches at Anfield when possible despite suffering life-changing injuries at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. In doing so he defied expectations that he would not survive for six months after the tragedy.
‘At an inquest held in Liverpool today, it was ruled that Andrew was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster, providing a further tragic reminder of the toll that Hillsborough continues to take on all affected by it.
‘The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Andrew’s family and his carers.
‘It should also be noted that Andrew’s family have appealed for privacy and we would urge that this request is respected.’
Andrew’s sister Wendy and brother Graham spoke to the ECHO ahead of the 25th anniversary of the disaster in 2014 and spoke of how the love and care their family has showed for Andrew had been the glue which had kept them together.
‘There have been a lot of tears over the years, but we are lucky.
‘Andrew survived, he is living at home with his mum and dad – and with 24-hour professional care – and is loved and cared for by his family.
‘He is the centre of the family and the glue which holds us together.
‘We are a tremendously close family and Andrew is a big part of that. A lot of families break apart, with family members living and working in different parts of the country, but we’ve remained together for Andrew. And family feuds are not an option for our family, because we have something far more important to do – be there for Andrew, the most important member of the family.’
Graham added: ‘It’s not just day to day life, it’s everything – Christmas arrangements for example. Everything is geared towards Andrew.’
They also dismissed any idea of Andrew having been ‘forgotten’ outside the family, which was proven years later when James Milner stopped during Liverpool’s Champions League victory parade to bring the trophy to the Devine home for Andrew to see.
Wendy stressed: ‘He’s not been forgotten. It’s just that people don’t know, and part of that is because mum and dad decided to stay away from the Press. To say he’s forgotten sounds bitter, and we’re not.
‘Our hearts always go out to those families who lost loved ones and we have always supported them.’