Teachers made desperate efforts to save a young girl’s life after she was crushed by a wall which collapsed in a school changing room, an inquiry has heard.
I’m not aware of any of my colleagues talking about the wall either or discussing with pupilsKerry Sweeney
Keane Wallis-Bennett died in April 2014 after a “modesty” wall in the girls’ changing room of Liberton High School’s old PE block fell on her.
Police statements from two PE teachers were yesterday read out at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the 12-year-old’s death began on Monday.
Kerry Sweeney described hearing a bang coming from the girls’ changing room and initially thought it was just one of the pupils dropping something.
But after hearing them shout her name she then rushed into the changing room, saying she could tell something had happened from the “panic” she saw on the pupils’ faces.
She said: “When I went into the changing rooms I saw that [the] wall had collapsed. I think there were three girls standing on the far side.”
Ms Sweeney explained she managed to lift the wall high enough to get her left foot underneath but struggled to lift it with her hands due to its weight.
With the help of others, the wall was eventually lifted on to its side to reveal Keane, who was not conscious or breathing.
Ms Sweeney dialed 999 for an ambulance and CPR was then carried out by the school nurse until paramedics arrived.
When asked by police if she had ever heard of the wall moving, Ms Sweeney said she had “no knowledge whatsoever” of this issue.
She said if anyone had reported this to her that she would have checked the wall and “taken appropriate action”, adding: “I’m not aware of any of my colleagues talking about the wall either or discussing it with pupils.”
The court also heard a statement from head of PE Stuart Robertson, who said he was passed by the school nurse as she ran to the old PE block with a first aid kit.
He said she asked him where the accident was – to which he replied that he did not know – and that he then followed her.
Upon arrival, Mr Robertson said a number of pupils – some of whom were crying – were waiting in a group outside the changing rooms.
He described seeing the partition wall on the floor and CPR then being administered by the school nurse.
However, Mr Robertson added the first he heard about the wall being wobbly was from newspapers, saying he “had never heard anything about it” before Keane’s death.
The inquiry, which is expected to take two weeks, has also heard evidence from statements given to police by pupils.
One pupil, who was 15 when Keane died, said the wall which collapsed had been “shaky” ever since she started at Liberton.
She recalled giving the wall a wide berth following an incident a few years before when she felt it move after being leant against by students.
She said: “I was frightened by what happened and I have never changed near the wall since.”
The inquiry continues.