Guitarist tells of taxi crush death
Kylie Minogue's guitarist has said he and his girlfriend narrowly dodged death on Valentine's Day after a building fell "out of the sky" - crushing the taxi he was in and killing the driver.
Luke Fitton had enjoyed a romantic dinner with his girlfriend at Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen restaurant and the taxi was driving along High Holborn when masonry struck it.
A large chunk of debris landed on his chest just centimetres from his face, St Pancras Coroner's Court heard today.
Taxi driver Julie Sillitoe, 49, a mother-of-three, was hit by the cement and killed almost instantly in the accident, which happened at around 11pm.
Speaking in a quiet voice barely above a whisper, Mr Fitton told her inquest how the evening turned into a tragedy he would never forget.
He said: "Quite instantly, I felt I had a huge piece of concrete on me, and it just seemed to go from absolute silence and normality to the complete opposite.
"I didn't understand what was going on. I was conscious, I was screaming and screaming because the pain was so blinding."
A large piece of concrete landed on his chest, crushing him, the inquest heard.
He said that he was overwhelmed by dizziness and confusion, and spent what seemed "like an eternity" calling out to his girlfriend to check she was okay.
He said: "People were trying to see what was going on and help, and I remember screaming to them to get this piece off me. Some piece of concrete.
"I'm not sure how much time was actually passing, but it felt like an eternity. Eventually, I got some kind of response from my girlfriend who was speaking to the people in the street.
"I was screaming, shouting, trying to get whatever was on me off. It just felt like it was not stopping going down, it was crushing, crushing, crushing."
Paramedics, police and an air ambulance rushed to the scene and he was cut out of the wreckage of the Skoda Octavia and treated.
But Mrs Sillitoe, from Finsbury in north London, suffered "devastating" head injuries which killed her.
London had seen bad weather and high winds that night and the days immediately before.
Mr Fitton said he had been "discussing how horrendous the wind had been that evening" with Mrs Sillitoe.
He paused several times and spoke very quietly as he told of the impact the tragedy had on him and his girlfriend - and said more could have been done to check the building's safety given the stormy weather.
He said: "For myself and my girlfriend, it has changed our lives so much in terms of appreciation that we were lucky in that situation.
"It makes you reflect and we are saddened that all three of us weren't able to come away from this experience."
Mr Fitton, who has only just stopped using crutches because of his injuries, added: "Having no way of rationalising how something like this can happen. You are not expecting to be worried about travelling home and buildings falling out of the sky."
He said he was still waiting for answers about why the accident happened.
He said: "People seemed to initially respond saying it was an 'act of God'. I feel that is a bit of 'We can't explain what happened'. I feel there could have been a lot more done.
"This is the UK. That was the last of a recurrence of a few days of bad weather. If you were concerned with your building it should be checked and maintained."
According to his website, Mr Fitton joined Minogue's live band as lead guitarist in October 2010 and performed with her on the Kylie Aphrodite Les Folies world tour.
Mrs Sillitoe's husband Steve said he had pleaded with her to stay off work because of the bad weather, but she refused so she could buy him a birthday present.
The security consultant choked back tears as he said: "She came up and said 'I'm going to go to work now'. It was very windy outside, it was bad weather. I said to her 'Do you have to go to work? Why don't you take the night off?'
"She said 'I have to go to work, I have to buy your birthday present'."
Mr Sillitoe later sent his wife a text saying he loved her, and she complained that it was very windy.
Mrs Sillitoe had to be cut from the wreckage of her car, but attempts to resuscitate her failed and she died at the scene from a massive head injury.
Mr Sillitoe paid tribute to his "fun-loving" wife, who was looking forward to becoming a grandmother for the second time.
He said: "She was extremely family orientated - with her granddaughter and her sons. Shortly before she learnt that (her son) Ben's partner was pregnant again with a girl, which she was overjoyed at."
He added: "It is a number of months since Julie was killed, and every single day I miss her very much."