Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Damages claim for night train death of teenager dismissed

- By PAUL KEOGH Court Correspond­ent @Examiner

A TEENAGER who was killed by a “silent” night train died because she did not “stop, look and listen”, a judge ruled as she dismissed the girl’s mum’s claim to damages.

Brighouse High School student Milena Gagic, 16, died when she was hit by the night train at a crossing in Hipperholm­e in December 2014.

She and her best friend, Amelia Hustwick, had gone to the railway after midnight to chat as it was “a nice place to hang out”, a court heard.

The pair were sitting between the actual train tracks, “laughing and giggling” because they were convinced trains did not run at night.

Both girls had also grown up in the area and believed if any train did approach it would sound its horn.

But since 2007, a “night time quiet period” had been ushered in, barring horns between 11pm and 7am, “lulling her into a false sense of security”, her mum, Leanne, claimed.

Mrs Gagic sued Network Rail Infrastruc­ture Ltd, blaming a lack of signs warning of the overnight quiet period for the tragedy.

But after a trial at Central London County Court, Judge Heather Baucher threw out the mum’s claim to £22,000 damages from the rail infrastruc­ture body.

A sign informing pedestrian­s to “stop, look, listen” was next to the crossing gate, which was a “perfectly adequate” warning, she said.

“Had Amelia and Milena stopped, looked and listened, then the incident would never have occurred.”

In fact, the girls had sat between the tracks and neither was in a position which would have allowed them to see an oncoming train, she said.

“This tragic accident was not caused by Network Rail’s actions or inactions,” she continued. “They (Amelia and Milena) took a calculated risk, based on assumption­s, and with total disregard for their safety.”

In the hearing earlier this month, Mrs Gagic’s lawyers argued Network Rail had breached its duty of care. They claimed Milena and Amelia were “lulled into a false sense of security”.

Had there been a sign to warn that trains ran overnight and would not toot their horns, the accident would not have happened, it was claimed.

However, the rail body denied fault suggesting Milena was to blame.

The train was travelling at around 55mph and only Amelia managed to jump clear.

Dismissing Mrs Gagic’s claim – which she said was not about money – the judge paid tribute to the mum’s dignity throughout her ordeal.

“Milena’s death was a bitter blow for the family to sustain,” she said.

“I hope that the conclusion of this claim may allow Mrs Gagic some solace and an opportunit­y to move on with her life.”

Network Rail said it would not seek its costs of the case from Mrs Gagic.

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