A coroner has called for Network Rail to improve warning signs at a railway station after a 17-year-old boy was electrocuted on the live rail after he went on to the tracks oblivious of the dangers.
Callum Evans, from Southampton, Hampshire, had spent the afternoon with three friends on the beach at Bournemouth on September 15 2020, where they drank alcohol, an inquest at Winchester has heard.
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But after they missed their train home, the father of one of the group gave them a lift back to Hinton Admiral railway station in the New Forest where the remaining three intended to catch a taxi back home.
But as they waited, Callum, who was studying A-Levels at Peter Symonds College in Winchester and his two friends climbed down on to the tracks until the teenager tripped and fell on to the live track, electrocuting him instantaneously, the hearing was told.
Friend Elspeth Hargreaves said in a statement read to the inquest: “We were running around the tracks, it was all for a bit of fun, I wasn’t aware that any rail was live with electricity, if I had known this then I wouldn’t have gone trackside.
“We all got back on the platform and a train came through at fast speed.
“After the train came through I felt uneasy about going on the track.
“Callum then went back on his own and started playing on the tracks.
“Callum was laid on the tracks and wasn’t moving, we called out to Callum ‘Get up’, when he didn’t move I knew something was wrong, I called the police and ambulance and then noticed Callum was alight with fire and there was smoke coming from him.”
A post-mortem examination revealed that Callum died as a result of electrocution with alcohol as a contributing factor as toxicology tests showed he was 2.7 times the drink-drive limit.
Kevin Pratt, of the design out crime unit of British Transport Police, said that the only signs warning of the dangers of trespassing and of the live rail were at the end of the platforms where they slope down.
He said: “For 10 years I have continually asked for the railway industry to put in better warning signs, my suggestion is ‘Danger of Death’ like at an electrical substation.”
Coroner Jason Pegg said he would be sending a preventing future deaths report to Network Rail which is responsible for signage which gives the organisation 56 days to explain how it is responding to his concerns.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, he said: “The organisation responsible for signage at Hinton Admiral Railway Station is Network Rail and I am going to send them a preventing future deaths report expressing my concerns.”
Callum’s father, Neil Evans, described his son, saying: “Callum was a popular child, lots of friends, really enjoyed life at Peter Symonds, very friendly, had a lot of time for everyone.”
He added that his son played basketball, rugby and karate and planned to study geography at university.Enjoy more Rail Express reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.