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Subject: Two fight for life as train shunts car 50 metres down track

Source: by Bill Wilson March 20, 2000 Wrecked: The Vauxhall Carlton and EWS freight train on the line at Seghill in Northumberland. -------------------------

TWO people were fighting for their lives last night after their car was involved in a horrific smash with a train in a freak accident at a level crossing in Northumberland.

The male driver in his 30s and a boy aged six received critical injuries in the crash, and were last night being treated in Newcastle General Hospital for serious head injuries.

A three-year-old boy also in the car was taken to North Tyneside General Hospital for treatment after miraculously escaping with minor injuries.

All three victims are believed to be members of the same family.

The accident happened at the unmanned crossing on the A190 Station Road in Seghill, near Blyth.

Their H-registration Vauxhall Carlton car was in collision with a goods train engine and was carried 50 metres down the track before coming to rest. The incident happened just before 5.30pm yesterday.

Last night Northumbria Police said it was thought the accident occurred when a Fiat Punto travelling west on Station Road failed to stop at the barriers and red lights, collided with the barriers and caused them to spring up.

A spokesman said: "A Vauxhall Carlton also travelling west apparently did not see this collision and the driver was probably under the impression the barrier was opening after a train had passed. This was not the case and the car drove onto the tracks and was in collision with a goods vehicle travelling south.

"The car was carried 50 metres along the railway lines before coming to a rest."

He said the drivers of the Punto and train had been breath-tested and proved negative for alcohol. The Carlton driver was too badly injured to test, but alcohol is not thought to be involved.

Last night a Railtrack spokeswoman said the car became trapped under the EWS Lynemouth to Tyne freight service at Seghill.

She said: "Two cars approached the level crossing.

"The train driver saw the first one get across, but the second one was involved in the collision.

"There is no reason to suggest the barrier equipment was faulty, but a full investigation will be launched."

Firefighters spent more than 80 minutes freeing the driver, who was taken to Newcastle General Hospital with serious head and chest injuries. The road was closed for four hours.

The six-year-old boy was airlifted to Newcastle General Hospital with severe head injuries, and the three-year-old was taken to North Tyneside General Hospital with minor injuries.

Last night Cramlington fire station officer Michael Waite, who was at the scene, said: "The adult male casualty was fairly well fixed into his seat because the buffers had gone into the car."

There were no carriages attached to the train engine, which was travelling on a line solely used by freight trains.

The names of the casualties were not being released last night.

Police are appealing for witnesses to call them on (0191) 214-6555. ==============================

-- (, March 21, 2000

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