Hillsborough survivor dies from coronavirus days before 31st anniversary of tragedy

15 April 2020, 11:54

Dave Roland (pictured at Hillsborough) has died after contracting coronavirus
Dave Roland (pictured at Hillsborough) has died after contracting coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A Hillsborough survivor who comforted a dying fan has died of coronavirus just days before the tragedy's anniversary.

Dave Roland, 65, died on 6 April after contracting Covid-19, just head of the 31st anniversary today.

His daughter Michelle Hopwood said his last words to her before his death were: "I love you".

She added nurses who were caring for him played the avid-David Bowie fan his favourite songs from their mobile phones as he died.

Mr Roland - then aged 34 - was pictured in the immediate aftermath of the football stadium's collapse with his head in his hands on the Leppings Lane Terrace.

The picture became one of the defining images of what happened, although Mr Roland would often deny the picture was of him.

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96 people died in the football stadium's collapse
96 people died in the football stadium's collapse. Picture: PA

His family believe the picture was simply too painful and would bring up memories of that terrible day.

Paying tribute to the "proud scouser", Michelle said he was "known for being generous to a fault".

She told the Liverpool Echo: "He was youthful, unique, kind-hearted and fun.

"He was the ultimate Peter Pan which helped form a joyful bond with his grandchildren, always turning up in daft hats and glasses, playing board games or being competitive telling them he could do anything because he was ‘the best’ at whatever the topic of conversation was.

"He beamed with pride when he attended events that his grandchildren were participating in and loved to take photographs to show them off."

Speaking at an inquest into the tragedy, Mr Roland told how he and another fan, John Owen, held 17-year-old Henry Rogers as he died in the crush.

He then tracked down Mr Roger's parents to tell them he didn't die alone.

Mr Roland told the court: "The exact words I used, because I can remember it to this day ‘We have come to explain to you that Henry wasn’t on his own when he died, and we thought it would be comfort for you to know, rather than not know’.”

“I always remember the blazing sunshine shining down on him, so John had him in his arms and I had hold of his hand.”

Both of the men attended his funeral.

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