October 23 2014 Latest news:
Monday, September 1, 2014
A taxi driver crushed to death by falling masonry only went out to work in “horrendous” weather to pay for her beloved husband’s birthday present.
Julie Sillitoe was just 49 when she died from “devastating” injuries on Valentine’s Day after a building collapsed on her car while she was driving two lovebirds home from a romantic meal.
The weather that night was so terrible her husband, Steve Sillitoe, said she should stay in at their home in Kestrel House, Pickard Street, Finsbury.
Speaking through tears at St Pancras Coroners Court today, he said: “It was very windy outside. I said why don’t you take the night off?
“She said ‘I have got to go to work to buy your birthday present’.”
Mr Sillitoe described his wife, who was looking forward to the birth of a new grandson before she died, as “fun-loving” and “very hard-working”. He added: “I can only speak for myself, but Julie was everything to me.
“Every single day I miss her very much.”
It is thought Ms Sillitoe was killed instantly, but Luke Fitton and his partner, who were passengers after enjoying a Valentine’s meal at Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen, survived.
He said: “We were discussing how horrendous the weather was that evening.
“We’d stopped at traffic lights and it was particularly quiet.
“Quite instantly I felt a huge piece of concrete upon me.
“It just seemed to go from absolutely silent and normality to the complete opposite.
“I didn’t understand what was going on but I was conscious I was screaming and screaming because the pain was so unbelievable.”
Mr Fitton was holding his girlfriend’s hand, but couldn’t tell if she was ok.
He said: “I eventually got some response from her.
“It felt like it [the concrete] was still going down, crushing, crushing, crushing.
“I lost control to be honest.”
Mr Fitton, who has only just stopped using crutches as he recovers form the incident, said that night will stay with him for a long time.
“This has changed our lives so much,” he said. “We appreciate that we were lucky. It just makes us reflect on how saddened we are that all three of us were not able to come away from this whole experience and we carry it with us every day.
He added: “How something like this could happen in 2014?
“We are living in one of the most dominant cities in the world, you don’t expect to worry about travelling home and buildings falling from the sky.
“That was the last of a few days of bad wind. If you were concerned with your building it should be checked and maintained.”
“It’s very difficult to accept the response that it’s an act of god.”
A tearful Mr Sillitoe then asked Mr Fitton about his wife’s last moments.
He said: “I know it’s not something you would want to reflect on, but you’re the only person who saw Julie
“Do you think it would have been instant?
Mr Fitton replied: “It came from nowhere. The most instant thing in my entire life.
“It’s difficult to talk about It.
“It [the masonry] stopped within centimetres of my face and was just so overwhelming. It couldn’t have been anything other than that.”
The inquest continues.