A boy described as the “life and soul of the party” died from electrocution after playing soccer with his friends, an inquest has found.
An aide at the inquest said Luke Bennett “probably would have survived” if paramedics hadn’t been sent to the wrong place.
Luke reunited with seven friends for a football match at Euxton Villa FC in Chorley, Lancashire after climbing through a hole in the fence on March 6, 2021.
The 17-year-old started fiddling with two friends – Lewis Geszke and Ben Wilcock – on a metal bar used to separate the benches from the pitch.
They tried to straighten the post that was touching or close to an overhead power line and the teenagers were thrown to the ground.
Ben Doherty, an eyewitness at the scene, said the three friends tried to stand the pole upside down.
He said there was “sizzling and sparking” and all three fell to the ground, shaking.
Another eyewitness, George Cooper, said he saw flames at the top of the pole and heard a “humming noise.”
Luke, electrocuted with 11,000 volts, got up but then collapsed back to the ground.
Meanwhile, his friends Ben and Lewis were unconscious for a short time before waking up to see Luke undergoing CPR.
At 5:58 p.m., one of the teenagers called the ambulance and it took paramedics 23 minutes to get to the teenager – they arrived at 6:21 p.m.
They had been told the pitch was next to Runshaw College and ended up being diverted to the actual address, losing valuable minutes.
This error meant there was no defibrillator at the football club as the call handler thought the boy had said Euxton and not Euxton Villa.
Luke’s heart had “completely stopped” despite the best efforts of paramedics and doctors and he was pronounced dead at the football pitch at 6.48pm.
The inquest at Preston County Hall revealed that Luke’s friends were told not to touch him until emergency services arrived in case they too were electrocuted.
Doctor Ian Schofield, a consultant cardiologist, told the inquest that if CPR had been administered up to 10 minutes after the shock, Luke might have been saved.
He said: “It is more likely that he would have survived if CPR had been started sooner.”
“And if a defibrillator had been available and used within the first 10 minutes, there’s a very good chance he would have survived.”
Describing him as “the life and soul of the party,” Luke’s father Tom Bennett said, “His personality was really quite contagious.” He was very outgoing and was riding his bike before you should. He just kept going.”
Describing the lead up to that tragic event, Tom said: “He was always asking us to take him to a friend’s house or play football somewhere in Buckshaw or Euxton.”
“I said I’d take him and pick him up.” I dropped him off up the driveway, which I’ve done dozens of times.’
The teenager had played as a winger for AFC Fylde and also spent time at academies including Blackburn Rovers, Burnley FC and Preston North End.
Tom used to be a footballer for Wolverhampton Wanderers and said his son was showing promise and loved tennis, swimming and trampolining.
“It was amazing how he could do something without any real practice, he was such a boy,” said Tom.
“He just seemed to excel in pretty much every sport.” He played for Blackburn for a while, then signed for Burnley and also Preston.
“He went through the academy system a bit later than most, when he was 13 or 14, so his learning curve was very steep.” He finally found a place at AFC Fylde at 16 and he was ecstatic. “He was a winger but as long as he could score goals and be at the center of the action he was happy.”
Coroner Kate Bisset asked Tom how he and his wife, as well as Luke’s older brother Dylan, were doing since the deaths.
“Day after day,” he replied, and began to cry. “It was’nt easy.”
The investigation will be completed today.
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