Lis Cashin accidentally killed Samantha Atherton aged 13 when she threw the spear at Wirral Grammar School for Girls in Bedington, Merseyside, on July 16, 1983
A former grammar school girl has relived the horrifying moment she pierced her friend’s skull with a javelin at a sports day.
Lis Cashin, then aged 13, accidentally killed Samantha Atherton when she threw the spear at Wirral Grammar School for Girls in Bedington, Merseyside, on July 16, 1983.
At university, still haunted by the pain, she took ecstasy and went on long clubbing nights before being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and receiving counselling.
When Lis threw the javelin it shot up into the air and began to head down, before suddenly veering to the right.
Sammy, who had offered to mark the distance thrown and was now in its path, was distracted.
‘Everyone could see what was going to happen,’ Lis wrote in The Guardian.
‘They screamed her name. In a split second, Sammy looked up and then ducked. I remember thinking: “Oh thank God, she’s OK.”
‘But the javelin hadn’t missed. It had hit Sammy just above the left eye. She stumbled forwards before collapsing. There was a lot of blood.’
The tragedy happened on the playing fields at Wirral Grammar School for Girls in Bedington, Merseyside, (pictured) on July 16, 1983
The next thing Lis remembers she was taken inside and given sweet tea.
Teachers tried to comfort her saying Sammy ‘is going to be fine’, before sending the traumatised 13-year-old home alone.
As soon as her mother walked in the door, Lis immediately accosted her and demanded to be driven to see Sammy in hospital.
After arriving, she wrote: ‘I was left in the waiting room while my mum went to talk to a doctor for about half an hour,’ Sammy remembers.
‘When she came back I said: “Is she going to die?” and mum said: “Yes, I think so.”
‘The pressure in my chest became immense and I struggled to breathe.’
Sammy’s parents, security officer and former Grenadier Guardsman Ian Atherton, 39, and his wife Yvonne, 38, kept a vigil by her bedside.
Lisa – pictured recently – said she turned to ecstasy and wild nights out at university to help
But Sammy never regained consciousness and she died four days later.
School headmistress, Christine Baines, held a short service in her memory.
Giving her reaction to the pupil’s death shortly afterwards, she told the Liverpool Echo: ‘We are absolutely devastated, everybody is very upset indeed.
Lis didn’t return to school for the rest of that term, but did go to the funeral.
In October an inquest gave a conclusion of death by misadventure and criticised the school’s handling of the games.
Sammy’s parents never blamed Lis, and she kept in touch with them for a while before deciding doing so would be too painful for them.
Her grandfather, William Lawrinson, said at the time of her death: ‘I am very sorry for the other little girl who handled this thing. It must be terrible for her as well as us.’
Lisa said she turned to ecstasy and wild nights out at university to help.
Ms Cashin now works as a speaker for TLC Lions, which helps organisations challenge the stigma around mental health