This story was related by Carol Vorderman on her TV programme, Mysteries.
After a family day out the Duggan family went to bed early as they were all tired. At about midnight Pauline, the mother, woke up and realised the room was full of smoke. She shouted to her husband, Larry, to get up and get the kids out.
She herself grabbed their baby, Nicola, and started down the corridor shouting at her three older children to get out. At that point Nicola collapsed and Pauline realised she had to get her out quickly and rushed down the stairs followed by her two sons, Paul and Steve. Larry, who was groggy with smoke and sleep, started to check the children's bedrooms.
First he checked the room of Michelle, their nine-year-old daughter; it was empty. Then he checked the boys' room; that also was empty. He logically concluded that everyone was safe outside, and by then he was starting to be overcome by the thick smoke, so he too escaped. When he eventually got out he was confronted by his family who as one shouted at him, 'Where is Michelle?'
At that point one of the boys saw Michelle at the window. He shouted at his parents to get her out. 'If you don't get her out, she won't be here tomorrow!' Larry attempted to get back into the house but by now the flames had taken hold and it was impossible to get inside. There was only one thing for it; Michelle would have to break the window and jump out. The whole family implored her to jump. Larry promised to catch her. Pauline ordered her to break the window, pretending to be angry. All their pleas seemed to be in vain until the window was suddenly broken by a china ornament: a blue and white elephant. Moments later the elephant was followed by Michelle who, as her mother put it, 'Came out like a dart. She just floated through the window!'
Minutes later the Blue Watch at Basildon Fire Station arrived at the scene. John Moss, the Acting Sub-Station Officer found the family safe but completely overcome with emotion. It was part of his duties to ensure that everyone was out and find out how they achieved this. He asked each member of the family how they had got out. When he came to Michelle he was surprised that she had managed to get out of the first floor window. He reported that at the time, he thought to himself, 'She must be mistaken; there's no way she could have got out of that window.'
'How did you manage to get out of such a high window?' he asked, only to be told by Michelle that her granddad had helped her. This rang alarm bells inside Moss's head because there was no old man with the family and this had been the first mention of him. He thought that he must have missed one person and asked for details of him. Pauline told him that the old man had been dead for several months! Later, Moss went inside to inspect the cause of the fire and check out Michelle's story. He found that the window was quite high up and there was nothing that Michelle could have climbed up. This confirmed his belief that she must have been mistaken, but the whole family had seen her fly out of that window.
Did Michelle really get help from her grandfather? This is her story: 'I woke up coughing and went to the toilet. I had had a cough that day and was very tired after our day out so thought nothing about it. When I came out of the toilet, I collapsed and couldn't breathe. I thought I was going to die. I felt something cold and when I looked up I saw what looked like a shadowy figure standing over me.
When it started talking I realised it was Granddad. He was wearing the same jacket with the yellow patches on it that he was wearing when he got buried. He said, "Don't give up Michelle, I'm going to get you out. Remember, yotfwere always my favourite." He told me to go to the window and pick up the elephant and break the window. I did not want to because I thought Mum and Dad would be cross. They were shouting at me but then this hand forced me to throw the elephant. It broke the window and I thought, "I can't get out of that small hole." He just lifted my body and threw me out.' Driffield, Yorkshire | Aberdeen, Scotland | Arbroath, Scotland | Blairgowrie | Cerro del vale | Edinburgh | Fife, Scotland | Ghost in Dumfries | Ghost in Perhshire | Harrises | Hereford, England | Hertfordshire, England | Killiecrankie, Scotland | Littlecote, Wiltshire | London, England | South Lanarkshire | York |
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