The mother of a 14-year-old girl who was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing has described how her daughter died in her arms, and told the inquiry she ‘may as well be dead’ herself.
Sorrell Leczkowski travelled from Adel in Leeds to Manchester with her mother, grandmother, sister and her brother’s girlfriend for some shopping before the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.
When they got there, her mother, Samantha, bought tickets to the concert for Sorrell’s younger sister, Sophie, then 13, and her brother’s girlfriend, Lauren.
Sorrell went back into town with her mother and grandmother and returned to the arena where she made her family laugh by singing and dancing along to the music as they waited for the concert to end.
At the time of the explosion, she was about 6 metres away from Salman Abedi, the bomber, and her mother found her lying on the ground and began CPR, despite being injured herself.
Sorrell Leczkowski (pictured) travelled from Adel in Leeds to Manchester with her mother, grandmother, sister and her brother’s girlfriend for some shopping before the Ariana Grande concert in May 2017
In a statement read to the inquiry, Samantha said: ‘I feel that I let her down and I didn’t save her. I am beyond devastated, I am broken.
‘As well as dealing with both me and mum being blown up, I have to deal with seeing Sorrell blown up and die in my arms.’
She added: ‘Losing one of my children has killed me. I may as well be dead. I have no life without Sorrell.
‘I don’t care that my leg doesn’t work properly, I don’t care that I’m constantly in pain from it because the pain in my heart is the worst pain I’ve ever had and it won’t go away.
‘I want Sorrell to come home. I think this is just a nightmare and I will wake up, but I never do. I want to curl up in bed and never leave.
‘I never do my makeup. I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere without Sorrell. I feel empty. I feel sick all the time. It’s like Groundhog Day every day.’
At the time of the explosion, Sorrell was about 6 metres away from Salman Abedi, (pictured at Victoria station) the bomber, and her mother found her lying on the ground and began CPR, despite being injured herself
Sorrell’s bedroom has remained untouched since they left for Manchester on the morning of May 22 2017.
‘I cannot bring myself to alter Sorrell’s room and wish for it to remain as she liked it,’ Mrs Leczkowski said.
‘I open and close her curtains regularly and find comfort in sitting in Sorrell’s bedroom and talking to her.’
Sorrell had a clear plan for her future and had her heart set on enrolling on an eight-year course in architecture at the University of Colombia in New York, her mother said.
The last birthday card Mrs Leczkowski received from her daughter was read to the inquiry in which she promised: ‘On your 60th birthday we will be in New York. We will have lunch at Macy’s and a shopping day on me. Then a lovely dinner out, to finish with a stroll through Times Square but until then this card and the presents in the years to come will have to do.’
She added: ‘You truly are my rock and I love you with all of my heart, which if you didn’t know that you do now.
‘I hope you have a nice lunch out and I shall see you after school. If you want I will do your make up for tea even though you already are the most beautiful, intelligent and kindest person I have ever been lucky enough to meet. I love you mum.’
The scene outside the Manchester Arena after the bombing that killed 22 people and left hundreds injured
Mrs Leczkowski told the inquiry: ‘That message sums up our relationship. She was my daughter and I was proud of her but she was my best friend. It was me and my kids against the world.’
Mrs Leczkowski described how she worked two part-time jobs, one at Leeds-Bradford Airport, before her children woke up, and one at the Post Office while they were at school.
‘As a family we didn’t have much money, however this didn’t affect Sorrell. She was never bothered for material goods and as a family we made the best memories with what we had.’
Sorrell decorated her bedroom herself using crafting skills, painting the furniture white and making a photo wall of friends and family.
She would watch YouTube to get ideas and try them out, teaching herself how to make handbags, rucksacks and wallets out of coloured duct tape.
Mrs Leczkowski said: ‘When we went out in the car we would sing and dance for the whole journey, we would laugh and laugh. None of this is happening now. I can’t even bare to watch the TV that I watched before.
‘I miss Sorrell and we want her back. I want her home. I want us to all be together again.’
Sorrell’s grandmother, Pauline, was also seriously injured in the attack. She suffered a chest injury and injuries to her legs and arms which required treatment in intensive care and reconstructive surgery.
Pauline’s husband, Sorrell’s grandfather, told the inquiry: ‘The devastation of that event will never leave me. Every day since I’ve looked after Pauline, who was one of the worst injured in the attack.
‘I see her physical pain every day, her mental anguish when it all gets too much. Pauline was there when Sorrell came into this life and she was there when she was taken from this life.
‘I keep going for Pauline, for Samantha and for all my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I have so much love in my life, but I’ve had a piece of that love torn from me.’
Stacie, Sorrell’s aunt, who was referred to as her ‘second mummy’ said: ‘The hurt I felt through all that has turned into extreme anger in knowing that my mum, my sister and my niece were victims of pure hatred, a hatred they never invited, a hatred they were not responsible for.’