KiwiRail to investigate train death

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 10:40 18/12/2013

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KiwiRail will investigate the incident in which a 16-year-old was struck and killed by a freight train near Belfast.  

Jayden John Smith, 16, was struck by a north-bound freight train at the Factory Rd railway crossing shortly before 9pm on Monday. 

A KiwiRail spokeswoman said the train driver, who was headed from Christchurch to Picton, had been given time off and offered support.

"These incidents are really distressing for our drivers." 

She said KiwiRail would conduct its own investigation into the incident, including checking the tracks and level crossing alarms were functioning as they should.

Community shocked

Smith lived with his grandparents in Darfield.

Darfield High School principal James Morris said it was "a shock and very sad" to learn of his death. Jayden Smith was enrolled at Darfield High School, but spent much of the year in education off-site.

"Our sympathies go out to his family, " Morris said.

Jayden Smith's mother said: "I love my son and I miss him."

Nearby residents heard impact and screams

Smith had been walking with his girlfriend and another teenage male when they crossed the tracks on Factory Rd in Belfast on Monday night.

Detective Sergeant Richard Quested said the other two crossed the railway tracks safely and saw what happened.

Residents in the area heard the train horn sound and went to help.

Among them was 16-year-old Tyler Barraclough, who comforted the distraught teenage girl.

Tyler said he heard a "thumping noise" and the train stop. He went to the fence, which backs onto the train tracks.

"I saw the girlfriend screaming on the ground."

Thinking she was hurt, he jumped the fence and ran to her. It was not until he got up close that he saw Jayden Smith's body on the other side of the tracks. 

"I froze. I didn't know what to do at that point."

Tyler said she told him the dead teenager was her boyfriend.

"She was panicking; non-stop screaming."

He took the teenage girl away from the body around to the side of the road. He stayed with her until police and her family arrived.

Tyler said the teenage girl told him they knew the train was coming before they crossed.

"She crossed before him and when she turned around, he wasn't there and the train had gone past."

He was not sure where the other young man went after the incident.

Tyler's mother, Mandy Barraclough, said she was proud of her brave son's actions in upsetting circumstances.

The sound of the railway crossing bells continued for about two hours after Jayden was hit, she said.

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Another neighbour, who declined to be named, also leapt her back fence.

"I just heard the train driver honking his horn . . . for a lot longer than normal. Then we heard the impact. Then we heard the screaming," she said.

"I just went into instant mode and grabbed blankets and helped where I could.

"Normally they just do three horns before they reach the intersection. But he knew what was coming so he kept the horn down."

There was no way the teenager could have survived the impact, the woman said. She too tried to calm the teenage girl.

Trains had continued as normal today.

"The first time I heard a train go past it gave me a fright. I won't be listening to the trains the same way again," she said.

Quested said the group had been at a home elsewhere and caught a bus to Belfast. They walked from there to the Factory Rd crossing.

Quested said enquiries into the death had continued today, including interviews with witnesses and the two friends who were with Jayden at the time of the incident.

"They are pretty upset about it," he said.

There were no suspicious circumstances and the death would be referred to the Coroner.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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