Mum and daughter crushed to death - inquest

A young mother and her five-week old baby girl were crushed to death by a falling building as they shopped in Christchurch city centre, a coroner's inquest has been told.

Kelsey Sinitta Moore, 18, was carrying Taneysha Gail Rose Prattley wrapped in a rug and walking alongside her partner Glen Prattley when the February 22 earthquake struck.

Detective Inspector Paul Kench said the young family was walking through Christchurch city centre, at the intersection of Lichfield and Manchester streets, when the quake hit at 12.51pm.

He said: "Taneysha was with her her mother in the vicinity of 116 Lichfield Street and was last seen in her mother's arms by father Glen Prattley."

DI Kench told the inquiry that the earthquake caused the Ruben Blades Hairdressing Academy to collapse, "trapping them under rubble".

Their bodies were recovered four days later on February 26 and post mortems found that both victims suffered severe head injuries.

During the hearing, Coroner Gordon Matenga asked four members of the victim's family present in the public benches if they had any questions to ask.

Jason Moore, father of Kelsey and grandfather to Taneysha, stood up to ask, "Was she (Kelsey) holding the baby at the time?".

The coroner replied, "One report says police were told she was walking along and Taneysha was in a pram, with Kelsey pushing the pram when the quake struck and the building collapsed."

But Mr Moore said: "That's different to what we were actually told. We were told Kelsey was carrying her."

The coroner took his time leafing through his substantial notes, before concluding: "Another report says she was carrying her. A baby blanket was next to Kelsey and Taneysha was lying next to her. There is no mention of a pram so it may be that she was carrying her."

He concluded: "When the earthquake struck, causing the building to collapse, Kelsey was holding Taneysha at the time.They were buried under the rubble. Glen was injured but not buried and was located and taken from the scene for medical assistance. The bodies were located on February 26."

The post-mortem for Kelsey found death caused by head injuries, with particular note to extreme compound skull fractures.

Coroner Matenga added: "The injuries she suffered were simply not survivable."

Taneysha also died from "multiple skull fractures."

He said that both victims died as a "direct result" of the quake.

After the hearing, the family declined to comment.

The inquest also heard the story of how Gregory James Tobin, a 25-year-old English backpacker, died as one of his work colleagues watched on in horror.

They were working in the kitchen of Joe's Garage in Hereford Street when the quake shook the city.

The coroner ruled: "Lewis Watson saw Gregory run from the building and as he got a couple of metres out the door, he saw him struck by falling rubble.

"Lewis Watson told police in a statement that when the dust settled, he could no longer see Gregory Tobin."

A post-mortem found that former soldier Tobin's death was caused by head injuries, with extensive skull fractures.

The coroner said: "Death would have been almost instantaneous."

The hearing continues.

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