Sons seek answers over mother’s death

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TWO brothers believe that gas leaks in a Scarborough cul-de-sac might have contributed to their mother’s death.

Gwen Willins, who lived at 13 Weaponness Valley Close, passed away on March 9 after she suffered a heart attack.

Police and ambulance crews who attended the scene noted a smell of gas outside the home, and engineers who descended on the street confirmed the gas escape outside.

Brothers Alister and Gordon Willins say they think gas might have permeated into their mother’s home, displaced oxygen, and put added strain on her heart.

“My mother had been staying in York, and begun complaining of extreme giddiness and nausea as soon as she returned to Scarborough,” said Alister.

“We put it down to a virus but she wasn’t showing signs of getting better. Gas could have been inside her house for an unknown length of time.

“The levels may not have been enough to affect a healthy adult but for an old lady of 88, her heart would have to work harder. We think the gas was a contributory factor.”

Following the discovery of the gas leak in Weaponness Valley Close, Mrs Willins’ sons voluntarily left the house keys with engineers, to allow them access to their mother’s property.

Despite Mrs Willins’ age, her sons as well as neighbours say she was in good health. The only time she felt better in the days prior to her death was when she got some fresh air, according to neighbour and friend Diana Tasker.

In a statement which she sent to the coroner, Miss Tasker said: “Until the few weeks prior to her death, she was very fit and active. Her mother had lived to be 96 and Gwen herself expected to live to be at least 100.”

She added: “We cannot know what the readings were in the house when she died.”

But there is no proof that the gas leak contributed to the death.

Mrs Willins’ funeral was held on March 16 and she was cremated. Her ashes were scattered two days later.

Northern Gas Networks, who have been making repairs at Weaponness Valley Close for the past nine weeks, said yesterday that there had not been a gas escape at number 13.

A spokesperson added: “There is some gas left in the ground from the leak outside number 10 and we are using air moving equipment to safely remove it from the area before we start work on replacing the affected pipe.”

The spokesperson added that it had not been necessary to evacuate any residents from their homes and that the gas escapes had only been found outside properties in the close.

Employees of Northern Gas Networks are continuing to monitor gas levels in the area. Residents say it is common for staff to remain at the site 24-hours-a-day and claim as many as six vans have been present at any one time.

Work is taking place at the end of the road and in the donkey fields which it leads to.

Some residents have asked that Northen Gas Networks to excavate the site to determine the exact cause of the leak.

Work to install plastic gas mains to replace the aging metal pipes is due to begin next week and last for another three weeks.