Memory lapse caused ‘horrific’ blast that killed a Sunderland mum

Mary Black died after an explosion at her Hylton Castle home. Below, neighbour David Thompson, who received a bravery award after going into the building to try to save Mary.

Mary Black died after an explosion at her Hylton Castle home. Below, neighbour David Thompson, who received a bravery award after going into the building to try to save Mary.

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A PENSIONER was killed by a huge gas blast after leaving the cooker rings on.

Mary Black, 86, suffered third degree burns across 60 per cent of her body from the explosion at her home in Hylton Castle, Sunderland.

Dated 02/07/2011'FIRE RESCUE HERO ..  David Thompson, 43, who ran into the burning house of his elderly neighbour Mary Pells Black, 86,  following a gas blast in her home in Sunderland, but while he was trying to save her the pair were blown to the gound when a second blast struck.'See story North News''NORTHERN ECHO COPYRIGHT - ONLY TO BE USED IN PRINTED EDITIONS - NOT TO BE USED  ON-LINE WITHOUT FURTHER SPECIFIC PERMISSION AND LICENSE - IF USED WITHOUT PERMISSION THE NORTHERN ECHO RESERVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION FOR BREACH OF COPYRIGHT AND DAMAGE TO BUSINESS' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES

Dated 02/07/2011'FIRE RESCUE HERO .. David Thompson, 43, who ran into the burning house of his elderly neighbour Mary Pells Black, 86, following a gas blast in her home in Sunderland, but while he was trying to save her the pair were blown to the gound when a second blast struck.'See story North News''NORTHERN ECHO COPYRIGHT - ONLY TO BE USED IN PRINTED EDITIONS - NOT TO BE USED ON-LINE WITHOUT FURTHER SPECIFIC PERMISSION AND LICENSE - IF USED WITHOUT PERMISSION THE NORTHERN ECHO RESERVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION FOR BREACH OF COPYRIGHT AND DAMAGE TO BUSINESS' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES

Mrs Black’s son, Edward, 58, who lives in Red House, said: “It was horrific, like something out of a film.”

Yesterday, an inquest into her death heard how Mrs Black’s neighbour, David Thompson, 42, rushed into her blazing home, using a coat to put out the flames on her in a bid to save her.

Pathologist Dr Hugh Cochrane said extensive burns were on her torso and limbs and it was unlikely anyone would survive such injuries.

Dr Cochrane told the hearing, at Doxford International Business Park, that the victim was in normal health for a woman of her age.

Fire investigation officer Peter Mudie said Mrs Black had been suffering from some memory loss, when the incident happened in July.

He found all the gas rings on the cooker and the grill had been left on in the kitchen of the Craigshaw Square property for more than 40 minutes before the explosion.

“The cause of the ignition is most likely the cooker switch itself,” he added.

“She has gone back to the kitchen after some time, hit the ignition switch and caused the explosion.”

Mr Mudie and the coroner, Derek Winter, both praised neighbour Mr Thompson, 42, for his bravery in bringing Mrs Pells Black out of the burning house.

Mr Thompson has since been awarded Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Bravery and Meritorious Conduct Award for his actions, which gave the pensioner’s family a few final hours with her before she died in Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Mr Winter said: “Despite him being a reluctant hero, his bravery should be formally recognised by this court.”

The coroner said the death happened in tragic circumstances, due to a memory lapse of Mrs Pells Black at the time.

Following the inquest her son, Edward Black, 58, of Monkwearmouth, said: “It was just a terrible, terrible accident.”

Verdict: accidental death

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