Saturday, 3 June 2017

I Had To Wait 11 Days To Be Told Of My Daughter's Death

When Sarah Jenkins saw pictures of distraught mothers appealing for information about missing children after the Manchester bombing, it reminded her of her own experience 12 years ago.
After the 7/7 attacks in London she had to wait 11 awful days for confirmation that her daughter Emily had died. She now campaigns for victims' relatives to be kept better informed.

"Emily was my fourth child, so the baby of the family. She could be naughty sometimes, but a great joy. All children are," says Sarah.

On the morning of 7 July 2005, Emily, aged 24, was on her way to work in London.
"She was staying in North London with a new boyfriend and I had no idea she was there so I didn't really prick up my ears or alert to the fact she was missing until my older daughter rang and said, 'We're all absolutely fine, Emily's late for work.' But there was nothing new in that, she was very often late for work," Sarah says.

But when she still hadn't heard from Emily by lunchtime, she began to suspect that something might be terribly wrong.

Sarah had spent the morning drawing in Clapham, south London, and walked with an awful sickness in her stomach towards the station, where she met one of her sons. The two of them went into a bar to watch live coverage of the bombing on a large TV screen.
"The first thing you do is ring helplines," she says.

"They give you very little information because they have no information."
Every time they rang they spoke to a different person, and were asked the same questions.
Sarah was also constantly ringing Emily's mobile phone and leaving messages.

By late afternoon she and all three of her other children had gathered together, but were not quite sure what to do. They called the police, who told them to call the helpline, which they did, constantly.

"I remember phoning all through that first night - of course one didn't sleep - so I was constantly phoning the helpline to get the same, 'Have you contacted her friends?'
"I could scream," Sarah says.

Her son James came up with the idea of going to the hospitals to look for Emily, but hospital staff just showed them into a room and asked to wait.

"The last thing they wanted was relatives there," Sarah says.

They also knew that Emily would have been travelling south on the Piccadilly line, so they visited King's Cross and Russell Square stations in the hope of picking up information. Again, without success.
One of the things Sarah remembers most clearly about this period, as the family waited together, was how her son Barnaby would go to buy pizza in the evening, which no-one could eat.

Every day they threw away boxes of uneaten pizza. Sarah wondered what the rubbish collectors would.... CONTINUE READING



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