Disabled pensioner escapes death on track
PUBLISHED: 13:06 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 May 2010
EXCLUSIVE By LESLEY INNES Email: firstname.lastname@example.org DISABLED pensioner Eric Setchell narrowly escaped death when his car got stuck on train tracks after repair work on a level crossing had been left unfinished. Just seconds after Eric, 69, manage
EXCLUSIVE By LESLEY INNES
DISABLED pensioner Eric Setchell narrowly escaped death when his car got stuck on train tracks after repair work on a level crossing had been left unfinished.
Just seconds after Eric, 69, managed to free his Land Rover, a high speed train hurtled through the crossing.
"I was shaken up for a couple of days," he said from his home in Cambridge Road, Stretham. "I had just cleared the car when the train went by."
Eric uses Little Thetford's West River level crossing regularly but workmen had removed decking covering the tracks leaving motorists able to drive straight onto the railway line.
On a dark morning, as he drove his dogs out for their regular walk by the river, Eric saw the warning light was green, opened the barrier and drove onto the crossing leaving his car stuck in the path of oncoming trains travelling to King's Lynn.
The incident damaged his car's suspension but be believes, if it were not for the fact that he was driving a 4X4 vehicle he would have been killed and train passengers could have been injured.
David Fletcher, who lives and runs a business next to the line in Holt Fen, helped him to free his car.
And just days after Eric's amazing escape, David raced out of his house to warn another motorist who was about to do the same thing and drive onto the crossing.
"There was no warning sign and I can't understand why the gates hadn't been padlocked shut," he said. "If Eric were not driving a 4X4, I don't think he would have got the car free. This could have been fatal."
Work had been carried out on the track last month to replace wooden sleepers with concrete and rubber ones, but left unfinished.
Villagers, fearing a driver would be killed, had made numerous phone calls to Network Rail, but the crossing remained open with a green light giving motorists the all clear.
After county and district councillor, Bill Hunt and Little Thetford Parish Council alerted the Ely Standard, however, workmen moved in over the weekend to padlock the barrier.
Cllr Hunt said: "I cannot believe that workmen would start a job and walk away leaving it unfinished without having the sense to padlock the crossing. This is totally unacceptable and grossly irresponsible.
"There are many of these farmland crossings in this area and if this is the attitude of Network Rail it is only a matter of time before there is a very serious accident.
"This company needs to ensure its workers take responsibility for their actions before someone is killed."
Parish council chairman, Jennifer Staines, said: "It appalled me that it took Network Rail so long to take action."
A Network Rail spokesperson said: "Network Rail is currently investigating an incident which occurred on West River level crossing whilst renewal work has been taking place and claims that signs warning of the closure were not visible. All level crossings are safe if used correctly."