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Compression asphyxia and other clinicopathological findings from the Hillsborough Stadium disaster
  1. Jerry P Nolan1,
  2. Jasmeet Soar2,
  3. Nathaniel Cary3,
  4. Nigel Cooper4,
  5. Jack Crane5,
  6. Ashley Fegan-Earl3,
  7. William Lawler6,
  8. Philip Lumb7,
  9. Guy Rutty8
  1. 1 Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2 Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK
  3. 3 Forensic Pathology Services, Unit 12, The Quadrangle, Wantage, UK
  4. 4 Department of Cellular Pathology, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  5. 5 Institute of Forensic Medicine, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  6. 6 Dyke Farm, Penrith, UK
  7. 7 Pathology, Royal Oldham Hospital, Oldham, UK
  8. 8 East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jerry P Nolan, Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; jerrynolan{at}


Ninety-six people died following a crowd crush at the Hillsborough Football Stadium, Sheffield, UK in 1989. The cause of death in nearly all cases was compression asphyxia. The clinical and pathological features of deaths encountered in crowds are discussed with a particular focus on the Hillsborough disaster.

  • disaster planning and response
  • cardiac arrest
  • crowding
  • resuscitation

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  • Handling editor Jason E Smith

  • Contributors JPN and JS were clinical expert witnesses to the Coroner for the 2014–2016 Hillsborough Inquests. GNR, WL, NC and JC were forensic pathologists to the Coroner during the 2014–2016 Hillsborough Inquests. NC, PL and AF-E were forensic pathologists representing the families during the 2014–2016 Hillsborough Inquests. All authors made substantial contributions to the conception and drafting of this manuscript and revising it critically for intellectual content. JPN is responsible for the overall content as guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests All authors received payment for their contributions as expert witnesses for the 2014–2016 Hillsborough Inquests.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note We wish to dedicate this paper in memory of the 96 men, women and children who lost their lives as a direct result of the Hillsborough Football Stadium disaster, 15 April 1989.