Student, 18, dies after slipping and falling from third floor staircase in Manchester university halls tragedy


A ‘funny and outgoing’ freshers student died after falling from the third floor of his university halls, an inquest heard.

William King, 18, slipped and fell from a bannister just a month after he had enrolled at Manchester Manchester Metropolitan University.

He fractured his spine and sustained unsurvivable head injuries from the fall and tragically died in hospital, with his family by his side, days later.

An inquest into his death concluded at Manchester coroner’s court on February 21.

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The court heard how William, who had moved up to study from his family home in London, had been enjoying some drinks at his friend Jasmine’s flat, directly above his, on the third floor of Cambridge South Halls, Cavendish Street.

When the group of friends decided they wanted to go out to the courtyard, on the ground floor, William went ahead and said that he ‘knew a shortcut’.

He then jumped on the barrier at the top of the staircase, before his hand was seen to slip and he fell to the ground.

He was rushed to Manchester Royal Infirmary by paramedics before being transferred to Salford Royal Hospital a day later, on October 30.

William and friends had decided to head downstairs to the courtyard after drinking

He died with his family by his side just over a week later, on November 9.

In a witness statement, friend Tom Carter said that William had ‘not drunk excessively’ on the night of the fall.

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He said: “We had been listening to music and drinking. I knew he had been drinking but not excessively.

“He was still aware of what was happening around him.

“We decided we wanted to relax in the courtyard and as we walked out of the front door of the flat, William was ahead of me.

“The situation changed in a split-second.

“I saw William on the other side of the barrier and he joked that he was going to take a shortcut.

“I then saw him fall over the barrier and we ran downstairs to find him on the floor on his side. We checked his pulse from him and gave him first aid and called 999. “

In another statement read out by Coroner Meadows, close friend, Jasmine Bussue, added that as he fell, she tried to grab him but failed to reach him in time.

18-year-old William was rushed to hospital from the university halls

She said: “He was a close friend of mine and he always wanted to make people happy and laugh.

“We were in my kitchen drinking and having a laugh with friends.

“I did not know what he meant by ‘taking a shortcut’. He then climbed over the balcony and I thought he was just joking around.

“I asked him what he was doing but he slipped and I tried to grab his arm but I didn’t manage to reach him.”

Mr J Evans, a consultant neurosurgeon at Salford Royal confirmed William’s bloods had never been tested by Manchester Royal Infirmary.

He also cited that the 18-year-old first year student had suffered pelvic bleeding, a spinal fracture and a serious traumatic head injury after the fall.

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Senior Coroner Mr Nigel Meadows told the court that he had witnessed CCTV footage taken on the night of the fall.

He said William could be seen ‘coming out of the flat to the stairwell’ before he ‘jumped over the balcony’ where he stayed for a short moment.

“Then his hands seem to lose grip and he disappears from view,” Mr Meadows added.

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In a written statement read out in court by Mr Evans, William’s mum Cathy Reilly had said that he was ‘fit, active and sporty’ and an ‘enthusiastic student.’

She said he took his health very seriously and would regularly send him healthy food packages.

Concluding, Mr Meadows said that William’s death had been accidental, and that his medical cause of death had been due to the severe head injury he suffered from the fall.

“It is quite clear he suffered a very significant injury that was so severe that nothing could be done,” he said.

“He was attempting to hold on to the balcony and we will never know why he did that, however he fell and couldn’t stop himself.”

Addressing William’s mum, who appeared via videolink, he added: “He had only been away for a few weeks and started his university life and I can imagine you were shocked when you were called about this accident.

“Losing your own child is the largest burden of grief anyone can suffer.

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“Young people are very enthusiastic and often think they are bullet proof and can do risky and foolish things.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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