Teen held woman's hand as train struck

A TEENAGER has told how he desperately tried to save a young woman killed by a train after her foot became stuck at a railway crossing.

Roddy Ashworth

A TEENAGER has told how he desperately tried to save a young woman killed by a train after her foot became stuck at a railway crossing.

Jonathan Smith, an 18-year-old Colchester IT student, bravely tried to pull the trapped woman free - as a train approached - after her foot got wedged in wooden slats at the Hythe Gate crossing in Colchester.

He continued holding her hand almost until the moment the train struck. The woman, in her 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police last night praised the teenager's courage, and described the tragic accident as “harrowing”.

Officers said the level crossing barrier had been down and red warning lights flashing when the woman started to cross at around 7.50pm on Thursday.

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Jonathan and another man had tried to rescue her as a train approached at about 50mph.

The teenager said: “I was standing waiting to cross - I was going to a friend's house. She got her foot stuck.

“I didn't think, it was just instinct - it was a young girl's life. I just thought, I've got to save her, I didn't think about my own life.

“I went through and saw she had her foot stuck. I had her in my arms. It was luck I wasn't hit. I was still holding her hand when the train came. My friend told me to let go of her hand, otherwise I would lose my arm.

“All I thought about was saving her. I just went into shock afterwards.”

Last night, police praised his bravery and that of the other man.

Detective Inspector Terry Pearce said: “They were very brave and we are very grateful not to be looking at two deaths or maybe even three.'

Police said one of the men suffered minor injuries and needed hospital treatment.

"A woman in her late 20s died at the scene after she attempted to cross the line when the barriers were down and got her foot stuck in the wooden guards of the crossing and became trapped,' said a police spokesman.

"Two men attempted to pull her free from the crossing as the train, which was travelling between 40mph and 50mph, approached.'

The woman, who is believed to be local, was hit by the 6.38pm National Express East Anglia service from Liverpool Street to Clacton.

Passengers on the train were stranded for over an hour while the train operator arranged for replacement busses to cover services between Colchester and Clacton. The line was handed back to Network Rail at 11:56pm.

Police said an inquiry was under way and a coroner had been informed.

Officers would not say what type of footwear the woman was wearing and whether that had been a factor in her getting stuck.

One witness said the woman was wearing black leather boots. Another unconfirmed report suggested she had Ugg-style boots.

The Office for Rail Regulation, which investigates breaches of health and safety law, said it was aware of the incident but had not been contacted about it.

Any witnesses are being urged to contact investigating officers on 0800 405040 quoting incident number 607 of March 27.

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