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Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 14:47 GMT
Student 'tried to help dying waitress'
Fire engine holding ladder to third floor of building
A firefighter tried to stop more stones from falling
A student has told of his efforts to help an Australian waitress who died after she was struck by a piece of falling masonry.

John McRae said 26-year-old Christine Foster was still alive immediately after being hit by the stonework, which had plunged from the roof of an Edinburgh building.

He told a fatal accident inquiry at Edinburgh Sheriff Court how he tried to stem the flow of blood from her head.

John McRae
John McRae told of the "pandemonium"
However, Ms Foster - from Kalgoolie, Western Australia - was pronounced dead later that afternoon. She had just begun a working holiday in the Scottish capital.

Five tourists from Canada and Holland were also injured in the accident at Ryan's Bar just off Princes Street in June 2000.

Mr McRae told the second day of the inquiry of the scenes of "pandemonium" which followed the accident.

The 27-year-old business studies student at the city's Napier University said one of the other waitresses had been in hysterics.

"I went over to help and that's when I saw the Australian girl lying on the floor," he recalled.

"I'd done a first aid course so I said to the other girl to get a first aid kit so I could stem the flow of blood from her head.

Christine Foster
Christine Foster: Working holiday
"There was blood everywhere. She still had a pulse but she was unconscious."

Firefighter Laurence Herkus, 52, from the city's Tolcross Fire Station, told the inquiry that he had stood at the top of a ladder to stop more stones falling on the people below.

Mr Herkus said he had found that a piece of lead flashing was all that was stopping more masonry descending from the three-storey Georgian building.

Ms Foster's father Michael and council officials were visiting a warehouse on Tuesday afternoon to inspect the stonework, which has been reassembled after the tragedy.

The hearing, before Sheriff Charles Stoddart, will resume on Wednesday.

BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh reports
"Christine Foster was here on a working holiday "
See also:

21 Jan 02 | Scotland
Inquiry told of 'crashing' stone
29 Jun 00 | Scotland
Waitress killed by falling masonry
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