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Inquest opens into deadly Bassetlaw train crash

Images from the RAIB report, published on 24/9/13, into the fatal crash at the Beech Hill level crossing near Finningley on 4/12/12 where four-year-old Emma Lifsey was killed.
The approach to the level crossing

Images from the RAIB report, published on 24/9/13, into the fatal crash at the Beech Hill level crossing near Finningley on 4/12/12 where four-year-old Emma Lifsey was killed. The approach to the level crossing

 

A horror rail crash in Bassetlaw in which a four-year-old child died ‘looked like a bomb going off’, and inquest heard.

Emma Lifsey died when the car that she was a passenger in was hit by a train at Beech Hill level crossing, Misson Springs, near Finningley, in conditions where low sun was making it difficult for drivers to see.

The car was being driven by her grandmother, Diane Jarrett.

Witness Catherine Hart, who was driving behind Mrs Jarrett at the time, told Nottinghamshire coroner’s court: “It was very wet on the ground and very sunny. The sun was reflecting off the floor which made it even worse, you couldn’t actually see the lights unless you dipped your head down under the visor.

“I saw the barrier was down and the lights and that’s when the car in front’s brake lights came on.

“I stopped my car and that’s when the train came and hit the car. From what I saw I didn’t think there’d be anything left. It was like a bomb had exploded.”

The driver of the train, Antony Rushby, also told of his shock at the incident, which happened on December 4, 2012.

He said: “It was sunny and clear and I had no glare from the sun. I don’t remember seeing any vehicles on the road as we approached.

“I became aware of an almighty crashing noise as I went over the crossing, I had no idea what the train had hit and I had no time to apply my brakes.

“I was very worried because of the violence of the collision that the train would derail.”

Mrs Jarrett told the court she had been driving for 50 years and had travelled down that road hundreds of times

“I didn’t see the lights or the barrier until it was too late. It was like they were invisible to me as I drove along that road,” she added.

The jury heard the level crossing was an automatic half barrier which included a pair of warning lights.

Daniel Heeley, signal and telecoms maintenance manager for Network Rail, told coroner Heidi Connor the lights were working as they should have done on that day, and added the last safety check was carried out in November, with an annual check in July.

He added the sun would affect how well people could see the lights.

Emma’s parents said in a statement read out to the court by her grandfather, Peter Jarrett, her death had left a gaping hole in the lives and hearts of her family.

They described her as a cheeky, active very happy child who was rarely seen without a huge gleaming smile on her face.

She enjoyed singing and playing instruments and had attended the Thurlow Pre-school in Epworth and then Haxey Pre-school.

They said: “She loved exploring and learning new things and she especially enjoyed messy play. She always enjoyed water whether she was in the bath or swimming in the pool.

“Emma loved animals and regularly walked our chocolate Labrador Fudge. She had a special interest in horses and we told her when she was five she could start riding lessons and she was extremely excited about that.

“She often chose to be out in the garden and loved helping with digging, planting and especially collecting leaves.

“Although she loved Peppa Pig and all things pink she wasn’t a girly girl and she loved rough and tumble. She was certainly a socialite. Everyone remembers her for her happy smile and infectious laugh.

“She would often throw her arms round us and say that she loved us.

“Her death has left a gaping hole in our lives and hearts and not a week, day, hour or minute passes without her in our thoughts.”

The hearing continues today is expected to last three days.

 

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