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