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Inquest: Fibromyalgia sufferer killed on level crossing
Tuesday 5 July 2011
Suicidal car salesman killed on level crossing changed his mind seconds before he was hit, train driver reveals
Inquest hears how victim, 58, looked up seconds before impact
A suicidal car salesman killed by a train on a level crossing had changed his mind and desperately tried to get off the tracks seconds before he was hit, an inquest has heard.
David Brown's change of heart came seconds too late when the Vauxhall Corsa he was sitting in was destroyed by the 60mph train at a level crossing in Wokingham, Berks.
The 58-year-old had moments earlier driven onto the unmanned crossing to wait for a passing train, but was then seen by the train's driver frantically trying to get out the way before it hit.
Distraught train driver James Collinson told an inquest into Mr Brown's death how he saw the father-of-two look up at him a split second before the devastating impact.
Mr Brown had tried to turn the ignition back on in a panicked state but 'didn't have much opportunity to bail out' before being hit by the train travelling on the Reading to London Waterloo line.
Describing the fatal crash on March 6 last year, Mr Collinson told the hearing in Windsor, Berks: 'I could see the nose of a car protruding from the barrier. It looked like someone had left it a bit late.
'As I got closer the car moved onto the track and stopped. My expectation was it would keep moving.
'It looked like he was moving his hand in a turning motion. My interpretation was that he was trying to start the car.
'As I got closer he was visibly panicking bouncing up and down in his seat as he was trying to get it started.
'I saw him look up towards me and by that stage he didn't have much opportunity to bail out.
'In my view the first part was deliberate - driving onto and stopping on the track. But the next part, the moving of the hand, was the changing of mind but it was too late.'
Mr Brown had been suffering from ill health since 1998 and had three major operations to beat off cancer.
His widow Marilyn told the inquest that Mr Brown had become suicidal after being bedridden by the chronic muscle condition fibromyalgia.
Mrs Brown said her husband had 'come to the end of his tether' with the illness and wanted to end the pain.
On the morning of March 6, 2010, Mr Brown made the one mile trip from his house to the level crossing in Waterloo Road, on the Reading to London Waterloo line, and was seen parked near to the line with his head down.
Minutes later he manoeuvred his car around the barrier and into position on the London bound track. He died of multiple injuries.
She told the inquest: 'Some days he was really bad and he wouldn't be able to get out of bed for four or five days on the trot.
'On other days he'd be ok and he would try to pack as much into those days as he could because he never knew how long it would last.
'He was a bit like Jekyll and Hyde.
'All he ever wanted to do was stop the pain. On the morning he died I asked him how he was feeling and he said; 'you don't want to know'.'
Mr Brown had attempted to commit suicide in 2007 by slitting his wrists.
Mrs Brown said: 'He told me if he ever got to that stage again he'd just drive off and I wouldn't know anything about it.
'He always said the nearest place was the railway line. He used the crossing every day to go to and from work.'
The inquest jury rejected a verdict of suicide and instead unanimously decided the cause of death was misadventure.
Speaking after the hearing, a tearful Mrs Brown said: 'I'm glad he's not suffering any more. Perhaps now when people say they are in pain they really mean it.'
The above originally appeared here.
Please note: This article contains references to death. If you have feelings of helplessness, or of suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. Lifeline is an excellent starting point: Lifeline – Suicide Prevention resources and links.
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