Tuesday 23 January 2018

Visually impaired woman fatally struck by train after falling from station platform

Patricia Brennan pictured with Former FF Minister Mary O'Rourke.
Patricia Brennan pictured with Former FF Minister Mary O'Rourke.
Patricia Brennan

Louise Roseingrave

A VISUALLY impaired woman died after she fell from a station platform and was struck by a train.

Patricia Brennan (57) from Ashcroft, Raheny, Dublin 5 overstepped the platform edge at Raheny Dart Station on August 14 2014. She fell onto train tracks and was unable to get up, an inquest into her death heard. CCTV footage showed the train enter the station 20 seconds later. The north bound commuter train was not scheduled to stop at Raheny station, the inquest heard.

Ms Brennan, who’d been using the train station for 20 years, was on her way to meet up with members of a walking group for the visually impaired at Howth. Described as active and social, Miss Brennan had taken early retirement from the Bank of Ireland two years previously.

“She was always out and about. She used a white stick. She was very social and a bit of a chatterbox,” her sister Marie Fogarty told the court.

Miss Brennan would ‘count her steps and feel the bumps’ in order to navigate the train station, Ms Fogarty said.

The fall at Raheny Station was witnessed by a Venezuelan student, Dilia Zepra who’s statement was read out at Dublin Coroner’s Court.

“I saw a woman fall from the platform onto the tracks. I shouted out to her, ‘Are you okay?’ She said ‘Yes, I just missed a few steps.’ She was trying to get up but was unable.”

Miss Zepra said she shouted to warn the woman to hurry, that she could 'hear something coming.'

“Then I saw the train coming and I shouted and waved for it to stop,” she said.

Commuter Joanne Cuddy arrived at the station and saw a girl on the platform shouting to indicate that someone was on the tracks. She went over and spoke with Miss Brennan.

“I asked her name and told her I was staying with her and help was coming,” Ms Cuddy said.

“She was between the train wheels and the wall, partially under the wheels,” she said.

The commuter train from Pearse St to Drogheda had departed Connolly St and the next scheduled stop was Malahide. The train was travelling around 70kmph according to driver Paul Dias.

“Entering Raheny station I saw a girl waving her arms and I saw something move on the tracks and I knew it was a person. I hit the brakes and blew the horn, it all happened in seconds,” he said.

Garda John Doran said CCTV footage showed Ms Brennan cross the footbridge and onto the platform.

 “She was using her mobility stick and moving towards the edge of the platform. She then began to walk sideways toward the edge, it appeared to me she was feeling for the platform edge with her foot. There was nobody near her at the time,” Gda Doran said.

Miss Brennan was rushed to Beaumont Hospital but was in cardiac arrest on arrival. She was pronounced dead at 3.15pm.

The cause of death was chest and pelvic injuries consistent with being struck by a train. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Lar Griffin, a district traction executive based at Connolly Station said there are six rows of raised bumps on Iarnrod Eireann platforms to warn the visually impaired they are approaching the edge.

Mrs Fogarty thanked Gda Doran and Ms Cuddy for their actions and support, which 'meant a lot to her.'  Paying tribute to his sister-in-law after the inquest, Jim Fogarty said Miss Brennan had travelled all over the world. “She was bright, popular and she was a great mixer,” he said.

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