Friends and family remember former Ham & High reporter killed by carbon monoxide leak
Plea for everybody to get alarms to detect silent killer gas
04 April, 2019 — By Richard Osley
Katie Haines, who was known as Katie Samuel when she was a journalist in Camden
IT is a tragic story which needs to be retold for at least two reasons: to remember a warm, young woman who lost her life far too young, and to help others take the steps which could save theirs.
Fond memories of Katie Haines, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning, were recalled this week on what would have been her 40th birthday.
Friends and relatives gathered in the family’s hometown of Fairford, Gloucestershire, for commiserations but to also celebrate the work of the Katie Haines Trust, which has campaigned for better awareness about the danger since her death in 2010.
She was known to reporters on the New Journal for her work as a journalist at the Hampstead and Highgate Express when it was based in Swiss Cottage – while the newspapers are rivals, reporters inevitably cover the same beat and meet each other regularly while out covering stories.
Then known as Katie Samuel, she will have interviewed people on the patch in the early 2000s and was skilled at what she did, perceptive and engaging.
Her father, Gordon Samuel, once said: “Katie was a journalist and if this had happened to any of us she would have moved heaven and earth to raise awareness. We won’t rest until everyone understands the dangers of carbon monoxide and takes steps to ensure they don’t fall victim it.”
Katie Haines with David Seaman
Later, Ms Haines moved onto the national newspapers before moving out of London and working in communications for Oxford University.
She was 31 and recently married when the harrowing news came through one Friday afternoon that she had died after a carbon monoxide build-up at her home in Wokingham.
The invisible, odourless gas is thought to have made Katie – a fit, healthy young woman – drowsy while she was in the bath and when she tried to stand up, she fell, hit her head and drowned.
The New Journal has helped to publicise her family’s attempts to change building rules and obligations of energy companies over the years, and for people to be made aware of the ease of getting a carbon monoxide alarm in their homes and the flu-like symptoms that can indicate a slow leak.
A devoted Arsenal fan, Katie was remembered last month in the matchday programme for the Gunners’ recent fixture against Manchester United.
Under a photo of her meeting David Seaman, her sister Lydia remembered one of their last matches together, a 7-0 win against Slavia Prague, at which a fan shouted at them: “Oh my God, two girl Gooners.”
Mr Samuel told the New Journal: “We were, as we are with our other two children, a very close family. That’s the worst part of this – well, it’s the best part, but the most painful part of it. “Her death has just about all but destroyed me. It could have done, but I thought, what would Katie have done? She would have championed the cause with her keyboard and her pen.”
ADVICE FROM THE KATIE HAINES MEMORIAL TRUST
- Ensure all carbon-burning appliances are regularly maintained, and serviced by a qualified engineer
- Make sure chimneys or flues are not blocked, get a sweep to check
- Install audible carbon monoxide alarms in all rooms where carbon-burning appliances have been installed – and test them regularly
- Pack an alarm in your suitcase when away from home