WALTHAMSTOW: Station fall death 'accidental'

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Simon Slade died after falling at Gidea Park station Simon Slade died after falling at Gidea Park station

THE parents of a man who died in a freak railway accident have launched a campaign in an attempt to ensure the same thing can never happen again.

Simon Slade, 33, was killed after falling between a train and a station platform. He was found, still conscious, 40 minutes later after a further three trains had passed through.

He died of his injuries less than an hour later.

Mr Slade was brought up in Walthamstow and had worked locally as a carpet fitter. He later moved to Woodford and had recently landed a new job working as a forensic crime scene examiner for the Metropolitan Police.

The accident happened at Gidea Park station, near Romford, after a night out with his new colleagues to celebrate buying a new flat in Brentwood, Essex.

Mr Slade had drunk six beers during the evening, but his parents argue that at 6ft 4ins tall and 15 stone he would not have been too badly affected by the alcohol.

He ran alongside his friends' train as it pulled away, but lost his footing and fell onto the tracks.

The inquest into his death heard that the One Railway employee in charge of ensuring the train left the station safely was answering a call in his office. He stayed there unaware that Mr Slade lay dying outside because he was too intimidated to be out on the platform alone at night.

Mr Slade's lungs, head and all four limbs were severely injured. He was only found when a security worker on the platform heard his moans. He died in the early hours of January 11 last year.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death, ruling out unlawful killing.

Simon's parents, George and Jean Slade, have founded Mind That Gap to lobby rail operators and the Government to tighten safety on Britain's railways.

Mrs Slade says local stations are unsafe. She said: "Highams Park, Wood Street, St James's Street, they all have massive gaps between the carriages and the platforms.

"A mother only has to let go of a child's hand for a split second and it could happen again.

"It is the most awful thing you could ever in your life imagine happening. We've got to make a change."

Her husband says passengers must be alerted to dangerous gaps with signs and announcements, as they are at Tube stations such as Bank. He also argues that stations should be properly staffed at all times, and wants to see US-style rubbing boards' extending from the platform edge to make it impossible for people to fall through the gap.

Mr Slade said: "Simon was a big bloke. If that gap had been reduced by a couple of inches I wouldn't be talking about this now.

"Regulations only measure the space between the platform and the step, but it's bigger between the platform and the body of the carriage."

Simon Slade was single and had two brothers, David, aged 41, and Matthew, aged 28.

For more on the campaign, visit mindthatgap.com or email mindthatgap@hotmail.com

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