Coroner to write to railway chiefs over warning signs after death of Totton teenager Callum Evans at Hinton Admiral station
A CORONER is to write to Network Rail to share his concerns over the lack of warning signs at a railway station following the death of a teenager.
Callum Evans (17), from Pickwick Close in Totton, died on 15th September last year after falling onto the live rail at Hinton Admiral station following a day at the beach with friends.
At a hearing into his death at Winchester Coroner’s Court today (Tuesday), coroner Jason Pegg said he had concerns over the limited signage at the station which made passengers aware of the live rail and its dangers.
A statement from Callum’s friend Elspeth Hargreaves explained the group, which included Callum, herself and two others, had been to Bournemouth beach where they drank alcohol and ate a takeaway. The group lost track of time, missing their last train home. They were given a lift to Hinton Admiral station by a parent of one of the group, and the three remaining friends planned to get a taxi home.
Miss Hargreaves' statement explained that while they were waiting in the station, the friends decided to go onto the tracks.
She said: “We were running around the tracks – there was no pushing or forcing. It was all just for a bit of fun.”
As a train approached, the friends climbed out of the way but she was left “feeling uneasy” about what they had been doing.
At this point Callum returned to the tracks by himself and she noticed him trip and fall. She added: “We called out to him and he didn’t move”.
The hearing was told she had not been aware of the live rail or its dangers, but if she had she would not have gone onto the tracks.
The emergency services were called and Callum was pronounced dead. A post mortem examination revealed he died from electrocution. His blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal drink-drive limit.
Tasked with investigating the accident on behalf of British Transport Police, Kevin Pratt told the court the station had standard ‘no trespassing’ signs but only one sign pointing to the danger of the live rail, which was at the end of the platform.
The inquest heard the youngsters would not have seen the ‘do not touch, live rail’ sign as they had accessed the track from the side of the platform.
Mr Pratt said: “I have continuously asked the railway industry to look at better warning signs such as ‘danger of death’. I want to see people being informed so they are more aware.”
He added one reason the industry gave for not having the warning signs was to prevent suicide attempts.
Callum was a former Hounsdown School pupil who was studying at Peter Symonds College and planned to go to university to study geography. He also worked part-time at Waitrose in Romsey.
His father Neil told the inquest: “Callum was a very popular child; he had a lot of friends. He was very thoughtful and had time for everyone.” Although Callum had consumed alcohol, he was not a frequent drinker, Mr Evans said.
He said he had visited the station since the tragedy and could not see any warning signs displayed. He told the inquest: “Callum’s fatal accident could have been avoided if there were signs stating there was a live rail. It is probably a lack of education from the schools as well. When I was a kid living in Wales, none of the tracks were live, it was all diesel.”
Concluding that Callum’s death was an accident, Mr Pegg said the alcohol he had consumed may have affected his judgement as well as making him confused and unsteady on his feet.
He added: “The evidence includes quite a clear statement from Miss Hargreaves who was at the scene. She was quite clear that she wasn’t aware any rail was live and says if she was, she would not have gone on the track. It seems to me, what Miss Hargreaves says does give rise to a concern for future deaths. The risk, it seems to me, is the absence of signage relating to the risk of the live rail.”
He added he would write to Network Rail, which owns the station, outlining his concerns. They are obliged to respond within 56 days.