Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Court Told of Selby Horror

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Court Told of Selby Horror

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alistair Keely

The Selby rail disaster in which 10 people died was probably caused by a piece of metal falling on the line from a Land Rover which had plunged on to the track, an inquest heard yesterday.

Six passengers and four railway staff - including four people from the North-East - were killed in the crash near the village of Great Heck, close to Selby, North Yorkshire, on February 28, 2001.

Detective Chief Superintendent Nick Bracken, who at the time was a detective superintendent with British Transport Police and the senior investigating officer for the crash, outlined how it happened.

He told the inquest jury, sitting with West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff in Harrogate, that the Land Rover, towing a trailer, left the M62 motorway and came to rest on the east coast main line, where it was struck by a GNER express train. Moments later the derailed train collided with a train carrying 1,800 tonnes of coal.

The total weight of the two trains was 2,500 tonnes and they had a combined impact speed of 140mph.

Mr Bracken told the jury it soon became apparent that a possible cause of the crash was the driver of the Land Rover, Gary Hart, falling asleep at the wheel. Hart, of Strubby, Lincolnshire, was convicted of 10 counts of causing death by dangerous driving and jailed for five years in January 2002.

Mr Bracken said: "At the time of the impact, at 6.13am in February, it was dark and the driver of the GNER train would have had little or a short view of the vehicle."

He said the train would have been travelling at up to 125mph on the stretch of line leading to the crash site. "It struck the Land Rover at a point 11 metres beyond the bridge. Within a further five metres of striking the vehicle the train started to derail. That was probably caused by a piece of metal falling off the Land Rover in a position between the railhead and the lead wheel of the train. …

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