Concerns over life-saving moments leading to Samuel Akwasi's death on Nottingham football pitch

Samuel's dad said the ambulance crews could not easily get to the pitch Credit: BPM Media

Concerns have been raised at an inquest into the death of a "fit and well" young footballer over an alleged delay in accessing a defibrillator - and claims ambulance crews could not easily access the pitch to save his life.

These concerns, raised by Samuel Akwasi's father and Samuel's coach Everton Richards, were heard as a coroner investigates the tragedy of the teenager's death in hospital after his collapse at the Forest Recreation Ground on May 7, last year.

Samuel went into cardiac arrest while he was playing for FC Cavaliers U13 against WBCY FC Rossoneri.

Two parents tried to save him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.

But the inquest heard about a potential delay locating lifesaving defibrillators, with referee Donavan Lewis saying one was collected after what must have been two or three minutes.

He also thought the ambulance struggled to get on the field, before managing to drive on, the inquest heard.

The inquest heard that Samuel's patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) - a persistent opening between the two major blood vessels leading from the heart - was "not significant" in the cause of his death.

From birth the footballer had PDA which is uncommon - but not unreported - and happens in eight out of 10,000 births.

There were no concerns about him with sport and exercise arising from what was described as a "small shunt" (an irregular pattern of blood flow in the heart). His heart was "morphologically normal".

Flowers lay on the pitch where 13-year-old Samuel Akwasi collapsed Credit: BPM Media

Tubman Akwasi was understood to have been told, after his son died of sudden cardiac death, that the defibrillator used was not the closest to where he collapsed.

He understood there should have been a defibrillator closer - but it could not be located - and someone had to run to the Forest Sports Zone, which the inquest heard was twice as far - which caused an alleged delay to getting to Sam.

Mr Akwasi said the ambulance crews could not easily get to the pitch, and these delays have caused them to wonder if 13-year-old Sam could have been saved.

One defibrillator was in a cafe - but at a different side to the pavilion - and the second came from The Forest Sports Zone, which was two minutes there and back at a run.

Samuel's coach Everton Richards and chairperson of FC Cavaliers told Dr Elizabeth Didcock, assistant coroner for Nottinghamshire, he was 100% sure the door to the pavilion was closed.

He also said a message came back that FC Cavaliers did not book - and just turned up and played - but he stressed that he had booked the pitch with Nottingham City Council Parks Department and paid on his card.

One player had told him "Sam's on the floor", and Mr Richards assumed it must be "his knee again". Mr Richards got some water. Sam was half standing, half lying down, and two ladies were around him.

"I helped to sit him up a little bit," he told Dr Didcock on Wednesday (March 22), the first of a three-day hearing at Nottingham Council House.

"He was breathing heavily," he added of Sam. "He had been running around to get these goals. Immediately these two ladies got involved".

He said armed police attended - maybe they initially thought it was a stabbing on the park - a helicopter and the paramedics, who Mr Richards stressed "couldn't get onto the pitch itself".

"They came down Mansfield Road. The entrance off Mansfield Road takes you right next to the pavilion. They would have to come out and carry the stretcher. One set of stairs is quite dangerous.

"They were still about 70 metres away (from Sam). I saw one (ambulance) come in off Gregory Boulevard, near the Mansfield Road end. When they came there, I did notice the vehicle just stop.

"It didn't occur to me why they stopped. There is no sign there to say 'this is the entrance to the pitch'. Up near the pavilion, I haven't seen no signs.

"I didn't see no signs to say, 'this is the entrance for emergency services'".

He said there was no signage to say there was a defibrillator in the cafe, next to the pavilion, and there was nothing on the booking form to say there was a defibrillator there, he claimed during the inquest.

Concerns have been flagged over the teenager's death in hospital after his collapse at the Forest Recreation Ground on May 7, last year. Credit: BPM MEDIA

He said a defibrillator needed to be at the entrance to the pavilion in a deposit box user groups could access with a code.

FC Cavaliers' club secretary Martin Hickey said the distance from where Sam was treated, to the right of the pavilion, was 111.76 metres.

If standing in the same position facing Forest Sports Zone building, you have to travel to the right hand side over the pathway, to get to the corner of astro turf - the distance to that corner was 183.61 metres - before doing a left hand turn to the entrance which is a further 77.35 metres.

He said: "You cannot make the journey as the crow flies. It took 50 seconds to run to the pavilion and back, and two minutes to run to the Sports Zone and back".

The inquest continues.