Student killed by train after suffering fit at Stratford station
PUBLISHED: 13:37 17 April 2015 | UPDATED: 13:37 17 April 2015
A woman died when she was hit by a train after suffering an epileptic fit and falling on to the tracks, a coroners' court heard.
Lithuanian student Erika Skuseviciute, 27, was on the phone to her boyfriend when she lost control and toppled into the path of an oncoming Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train at platform 17, Stratford station, in October 2013.
An inquest into her death at Walthamstow Coronors’ Court on Wednesday revealed that Erika was visiting her partner, Ricardas Svedkaliskas, at his North Woolwich home to celebrate their ten year anniversary.
The couple had planned to move in together after Erika had completed her economics degree.
Recalling the day of her death, Ricardas told the Recorder: “I was on the phone to her and then it suddenly just cut out. I thought the connection had just gone.
“I started getting worried when she didn’t return home on time. And then the police came soon after seven and I just knew what they were going to tell me, I knew she was dead.”
The inquest heard there was 12 seconds between Erika falling on the track and the DLR train hitting her.
A passenger on the train saw Erika and called on the passenger service assistant who pressed the emergency button to stop the train.
An emergency button on the platform was also pressed, but questions were raised by Ricardas, 36, as to whether anything could have been done in time to avoid her death.
He said: “I believe there should always be a passenger service assistant at the front of the train and more emergency buttons on the platform and the train to avoid such incidents in the future.”
DLR director, Rory o’Neill told the inquest that DLR trains are driven through a computer and monitored through CCTV cameras by control centre officers.
He added that even if there was a driver who had applied an emergency brake, there is no proof the train would have stopped in time.
“The train has momentum and if the emergency brake is applied it still moves forward and it stops within a few seconds but this depends on weight and the condition of the track,” he said.
The court heard how In the last ten years, there have been just two fatal accidents on the DLR.
Coroner, Dr Shirley Radcliffe, recorded a verdict of accidental death.
She said: “There was 12 seconds in between her falling on the track and the train passing over her.
“In that time, even if someone had pressed the button on the platform it’s not possible to say on the balance of probability that the train would have stopped. It’s simply an unfortunate accident.”