Mother tells paranormal investigators to cease speculation over ‘spontaneous combustion’ role in daughter’s death
Apr 11 2013 by Oliver Clay, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News
A WIDNES mother whose daughter died after suffering horrific burns at Halton College has begged paranormal investigators to stop speculating about whether spontaneous human combustion was to blame.
Jean Fitzsimon, 77, spoke out after the latest work to feature a probe into the death of her child Jackie was published.
She was adamant that her 17-year-old daughter died from complications due to the burns that she suffered at Halton College in January 1985.
Mrs Fitzsimon told the Weekly News that Paranormal Merseyside by Widnes author Steven Tucker is among a string of publications and newspaper articles that have offered spontaneous combustion as a possible explanation for Jackie’s tragic death.
The most horrific handling of the story was by a national magazine that featured a doctored image of her daughter engulfed in flames, she said.
A TV documentary also appeared to show Jackie descending stairs followed by a sinister blue light.
Jackie Fitzsimon died ‘of lung shock’ in Whiston Hospital days after she suffered burns in a cookery class at Halton College.
Her mother said fire damage to her clothes and Jackie’s statements suggesting she leaned on a lit hob indicated accidental death – something that was denied by the class lecturer.
She added that there was no suggestion in the subsequent inquest that anything paranormal had happened.
The origins of the rumour that her daughter died of spontaneous combustion at Halton College remain a mystery, however.
Speaking on Tuesday to the Weekly News, about whom she had also complained, Mrs Fitzsimon said: “It was cold and it was snowing. She had gone into the cookery room.
“They had lit the gas on top of the cooker.
“The college got a TV crew in. It was one of the things that really annoyed me, to make it look more eerie.
“It was a terrible time for us. Her sister was only 13 and my husband was never the same again. He died three years later.”
Mrs Fitzsimon said she believes in a free press but said that there is a line not to cross in relation to handling tragedy.
The chapter about the incident by Steven Tucker poses spontaneous combustion as one of several theories, including the lit oven, about the cause of her death and concludes that an unusual natural phenomenon overlooked by the inquest could be to blame.
Mr Tucker told the Weekly News that he had apologised to Mrs Fitzsimon for any upset and that he ‘wished he hadn’t written it and never intended to cause any upset’.
Halton College’s heir Riverside College was not available for comment.