Train death boy 'begged for help'
Published 14/04/2011 | 14:31
A teenager pleaded desperately for help as he lay trapped in front of an oncoming train, an inquest heard today.
Ryan Quinn, 14, had got his hand lodged in a cattle grid in Portrush, Co Antrim, in January 2009.
Moments before his death, he made a frantic call to his father, Ivan, claiming he had been attacked in nearby McLaughlin's bar and was being chased.
He said: "Daddy, you are going to have to come quickly.
"I cannot get out, my knuckle is stuck."
He was hit by the last train from Coleraine to Portrush and suffered fatal injuries.
A statement from his father at Coleraine Coroner's Court said: "He was starting to get hysterical and the more he got hysterical he was begging me, he was screaming down the phone."
The Public Prosecution has told the dead boy's family there is insufficient evidence to bring a case against two suspects. Police have been unable to prove how the St Joseph's College, Coleraine, pupil came to be lying on the line when the train hit him.
His family is convinced he was murdered.
Mr Quinn, speaking from Maghaberry Prison via video link, added: "My son was not just my son, he was my best friend and I knew him probably better than anybody."
Train driver Ian Cairns said he believed he had seen somebody running away from the line a split second before the collision.
"I suddenly had a flashback, it was so vivid it gave me goosebumps," he said.
"I am convinced there was someone else on the track prior to the train hitting Ryan Quinn."
His first statement to police made no reference to seeing anybody else.
Mr Cairns recalled the body on the track.
"I saw a person appear to be holding themselves up with their arm, the lights of the train illuminated the face and you then saw the left arm raised," he said.
Coroner John Leckey said it was a terrible situation.
"One can understand why panic would have entered the equation on seeing the oncoming train with the lights no doubt would have increased the sense of panic, a real nightmare situation," he added.
Mr Quinn was three times over the legal limit when he died and had been at McLaughlin's bar celebrating his half brother Dean Quinn's 18th birthday.
The teenager, from Slemish Place, Coleraine, suffered multiple injuries including spinal fractures and severed limbs.
Mr Cairns said: "The memory of Ryan turning around and putting his hand up has been in the forefront of my mind and that is why I believe I did not (initially) recall the first incident of the person running away."
The victim's mother, Lisa Kinnaird, said she did not know he was going to a bar or that he had been drinking. She thought he was having a meal and celebrating the birthday with his father.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said some witnesses in the bar had not come forward and appealed for anybody with information to contact them.
"We are aware that there was an incident in McLaughlin's pub a short time before Ryan found himself on the railway line," he said.
"Ryan did not go on to the track for a walk.
"We are aware that Ryan was subjected to a minor assault prior to finding himself on the railway line."
One of the witnesses to come forward, Glenn Carton, was drinking in the pub and did not see the assault but said Ryan told him somebody was coming to give him a kicking.
Outside court, solicitor for the family Ernie Waterworth said: "The family have no doubt he was assaulted prior to being on the track and therefore was escaping."
He added that they believed Ryan fell on the line.
The coroner found that heavy bruising noted in a pathology report supported the conclusion that his hand was trapped in the wooden cattle grid at the crossing. He said Ryan died from multiple injuries sustained during the train crash.