Cross­ing vic­tim im­prov­ing

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

A young woman se­ri­ously hurt at the Morn­ing­side rail cross­ing three months ago is re­cov­er­ing well but still has some way to go be­fore re­sum­ing nor­mal life.

The 22-year-old woman was struck by a train af­ter a wheel on her mo­torised wheelchair be­came caught in the tracks at the pedes­trian cross­ing.

The ac­ci­dent hap­pened on Fe­bru­ary 25 de­spite the ef­forts of two passersby to move her and the train driver’s at­tempt to stop.

Ki­wiRail has re­leased a re­port on the ac­ci­dent, ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the poor con­di­tion of the cross­ing, which led to the in­ci­dent.

Ki­wiRail chair­man John Spencer says the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has shown that due to fail­ings the de­graded con­di­tion of the cross­ing was not iden­ti­fied and reme­died as it should have been prior to the ac­ci­dent.

‘‘We take our re­spon­si­bil­ity for meet­ing our own safety stan­dards se­ri­ously and are very dis­ap­pointed and apolo­getic for our fail­ure in this in­stance,’’ he says.

‘‘If it wasn’t for the two brave peo­ple who in­ter­vened, the out­come would have been much worse.

‘‘We have thanked them and think they de­serve wider, pub­lic recog­ni­tion for their ac­tions.’’

The young woman’s mother says for her daugh­ter life is slowly but surely im­prov­ing.

‘‘Ten weeks on from the ac­ci­dent our daugh­ter has made an amaz­ing re­cov­ery.

‘‘We would like to ac­knowl­edge the out­stand­ing care from Auck­land City Hos­pi­tal, in par­tic­u­lar crit­i­cal care and Ward 76, as well as those who saved her life that day on the train tracks.’’

The young woman, who is deaf, has now moved to a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion unit and is com­mu­ni­cat­ing with fam­ily and friends through sign­ing, tex­ting and us­ing a com­puter.

Her in­juries, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple frac­tures and the par­tial am­pu­ta­tion of a foot, are all heal­ing. She is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some dif­fi­culty in weight-bear­ing, but is re­ceiv­ing daily physio and looks for­ward to even­tu­ally re­sum­ing nor­mal life and get­ting back to the part-time ad­min­is­tra­tion work she was pre­vi­ously em­ployed in.

Her mother says the fam­ily has seen the re­port and is happy with the find­ings.

The re­port found that the width and depth of the flange gap, the un­even sur­face of the cross­ing and the an­gle of the cross­ing were con­tribut­ing fac­tors to the ac­ci­dent.

Mr Spencer says the cross­ing was fully re­built in mid2011 but had de­te­ri­o­rated rapidly be­cause of the com­bined im­pact of stormwa­ter flood­ing and a bro­ken wa­ter pipe be­neath it.

He says that work has al­ready be­gun to mit­i­gate the risk of any ac­ci­dents like this oc­cur­ring again.

‘‘We took im­me­di­ate steps af­ter the ac­ci­dent to re-seal Morn­ing­side cross­ing and in­spect other sim­i­lar pedes­trian rail cross­ings na­tion­ally.’’

Mr Spencer says Ki­wiRail would be look­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally to iden­tify other meth­ods that may help bet­ter man­age the de­sign, con­struc­tion, in­spec­tion and main­te­nance needs spe­cific to rail pedes­trian level cross­ings.

‘‘Our in­ten­tion is to also con­tinue to in­volve groups rep­re­sent­ing mo­bil­ity im­paired users and cy­clists in this work. We have al­ready taken the first steps with key staff tak­ing part in field trips with wheelchair users in Auck­land to un­der­stand the is­sues they face when cross­ing the tracks.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Re­paired: The Morn­ing­side level pedes­trian cross­ing, re­paired fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent that se­ri­ously hurt a young Morn­ing­side woman whose wheelchair caught in the tracks.

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