United Kingdom

Woman who died in explosion was sat on her sofa making FaceTime call at the time, inquest hears

A much loved counsellor killed in an explosion at her home was on FaceTime to her partner at the time, an inquest opening heard.

Hazel Wilcock, 61, died after the incident at her home on East View in Summerseat, Greater Manchester, on the evening of February 18.

An inquest into her death was opened at Rochdale Coroner's Court today.

Police coroner's officer Jane Scullion told the court: 'Hazel was at her home address and was having a FaceTime call with her partner when an explosion took place, causing the phone to disconnect and cut off.

'All emergency services attended the scene.

'Ms Wilcock's property was completely destroyed and there was damage to two neighbouring properties.

Hazel Wilcock (pictured)  was killed in an explosion at her home in Summerseat, Greater Manchester, last month while she was on a Facetime call with friends, an inquest has heard

The blast ripped through the walls and roof, revealing the gutted interior. Debris was flung as far as the road and littered the front garden and surrounding homes were initially evacuated

'Ms Wilcock was in a seating position, on the sofa, at the time of the FaceTime call.'

Ms Scullion said that the fire service have gathered no evidence of 'suspicious activity'. Other investigations are still taking place.

The provisional cause of death has been recorded as 'traumatic asphyxia', according to Ms Scullion.

Assistant coroner Michael Salt said an inquest was 'inevitably needed'.

A date is yet to be fixed for the full inquest but Mr Salt said that the file will be reviewed on May 24.

After the explosion, 30 homes in the surrounding vicinity were evacuated as a precaution.

Emergency crews remained on scene in Summerseat as investigations were carried out 

House was destroyed by the blast, which also injured others including neighbour and her child

The blast ripped through the walls and roof, revealing the gutted interior. Debris was flung as far as the road and littered the front garden.

Search and rescue dogs were deployed to the scene as fire crews set about extinguishing the last of the flames.

Cadent gas officials could be seen assessing the scene, with a strong smell of gas reported in the area. 

Forensic officers were also spotted searching the area, with a forensic tent stationed nearby to the scene.

Ms Wilcock was born in Radcliffe and worked as a counsellor at St Ann's Hospice in Little Hulton, Salford.

Hazel began work with St Ann's Hospice, in Manchester, as a counsellor and clinical advisor is November 2016, before taking up took up a role as senior counsellor in April last year. 

Thirty homes in East View, Summerseat, were evacuated as a precaution after the explosion

For her 60th birthday, Hazel raised £235 for the hospice. 

Following her death, chief executive of the hospice, Rachel McMillan said: 'Everyone at the hospice is extremely shocked and saddened by the tragic news of Hazel's death, and our thoughts are with her family and loved ones.

'Hazel had been part of the St Ann's team for four years as a senior counsellor in our Patient and Family Support Team, working hard to support the people we care for and those closest to them.

'She was a much loved member of the hospice family, always compassionate, and always focused on ensuring the very best care for our patients.'

In tributes shared after her death, Hazel was described as a 'generous, kind, supportive and empowering' person who had a cracking sense of humour and always had a 'twinkle in her eye'.

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