Grandmother crushed to death after house collapsed on top of her as she hung out washing

Grandmother crushed to death after house collapsed on top of her as she hung out washing

Clarice Berry, a ‘cherished and much-loved’ grandmother, was buried under 10ft of rubble that collapsed from her house

A grandmother was crushed to death when part of her house collapsed on top of her while she was hanging out her washing, an inquest heard.

Clarice Berry, 77, was left buried under 10ft of rubble when the gable end of her home landed on top of her, a coroner was told.

Shocked neighbours, who said it sounded like a “bomb had gone off”, rushed to the scene and desperately attempted to haul Mrs Berry from the rubble.

The married grandmother-of-six was rushed to hospital but tragically died from her injuries a short time later.

At the opening of an inquest yesterday (July 28), it was heard Mrs Berry was standing in her carport hanging washing at her home in Wigan, Greater Manchester, when the bricks gave way.

Bolton Coroners’ Court heard the gable end of the house “suddenly crumbled” into where the OAP was standing and that she was “covered under the debris”.

The woman’s husband had been out and returned to the semi-detached property to find neighbours trying to remove her the debris, the coroner was told.

It is thought Mrs Berry suffered a cardiac arrest and multiple broken bones, while a post mortem ruled her cause of death as “chest injuries”.

The inquest was opened and adjourned until December 3, when a review will be held.

A full hearing will be held at a later date.

But speaking at the time of Mrs Berry’s death on July 18, a neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “We were just in the garden when we heard a massive crash.

“All we saw was smoke. It sounded like a gas bottle had exploded.”

Firefighters cleared the debris by hand and managed to rescue Mrs Berry, who was taken to Wigan Royal Infirmary but couldn’t be saved.

The neighbour added: “We came out to the front and saw the gable end of the house had fallen.

“We banged on the door. A number of neighbours were milling by now. We didn’t think at this point anyone was there.

“Next thing the man who lives there turned up in his car. We asked where the lady who lived there was and he said she was in the house. That was when everything changed.

“I said to next door to call an ambulance. We went running in, shouting her name.

“We got to the back door and saw the amount of rubble. It was like a bomb had gone off.

“I tried to move some of the bricks but it was a waste of time. The rubble went up to about 10 feet at its highest point.

“We tried to prise open the wooden gate with a crowbar. We smashed the bolts locking it from the inside and there was a kind of void there.”

An online obituary set up in Mrs Berry’s name describes her as “a devoted wife” and a “loving mum”.

It added she was a “cherished and much-loved” gran who had six grandchildren and three siblings.

The notice said: “Clarice will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all her family and friends.”