Family of North York Moors Railway crush death victim seek "substantial damages" (From The Northern Echo)
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Family of North York Moors Railway crush death victim seek "substantial damages"
12:42pm Thursday 31st January 2013 in News
THE family of a steam railway volunteer who was crushed to death between carriages is seeking substantial damages from the railway, their lawyer said today.
Retired police officer Robert Lund, 65, died almost instantly from extreme chest and abdominal injuries on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Mr Lund, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, was working as a guard when he was fatally injured at Grosmont Station on May 21 last year.
A jury at North Yorkshire Coroners Court in Scarborough today found that the father-of-one's death was a tragic accident.
Speaking after the hearing, the family's lawyer, Kevin Hughes, said: "We've made a claim for damages on behalf of the family, which is currently being considered."
Mr Hughes said the verdict was expected and added: "It reinforces our view that a civil claim is likely to produce substantial damages."
Yesterday, the jury heard that Mr Lund was helping volunteer train driver Norman Ash shunt and uncouple carriages at the station shortly before the fatal accident.
Mr Lund, a retired Humberside Police officer, unhooked some coaches and signalled the driver to move away, and it is thought he returned to the area between the carriages.
However, the locomotive unexpectedly moved off in the wrong direction, Mr Ash told coroner Michael Oakley.
Mr Ash, a retired professional train driver with more than 50 years experience, said it is possible he did not lock a reversing lever into place, which could have allowed the locomotive to slip between forward and reverse.
"I turned round to see which way I was going and the next thing I knew I was going the opposite way," he said.
"I never even thought about Mr Lund going back between the coaches."
He said he walked along the platform and saw Mr Lund trapped between two coaches.
Pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper said Mr Lund suffered severe crushing injuries to his chest and abdomen and he would have died very quickly.
Accident investigators have told the hearing they had complete confidence in the actions of both Mr Lund and Mr Ash.
Chris Hall of the Rail Accident Investigation Board said that Mr Lund would have had no reason to believe the train would change direction, which was most likely caused by the driver forgetting to lock the reverse lever.
Following today's verdict, North Yorkshire Moors Railway expressed its sympathies to Mr Lunds family and said it was understandable they have launched civil proceedings.
General manager Philip Benham said Mr Lund's death was devastating, adding: "I want to say how much we respected Bob Lund. He was dedicated, he gave us a lot of his time and enjoyed his work.
"Theres a feeling of tremendous sympathy for Bob's family and a wish to support them in every way we can.
"We've looked at how we can strengthen our procedures in light of this tragedy and if we find we can improve safety further, we certainly will."
Mr Lund's widow, Patricia, said her husband was an avid railway enthusiast who devoted much of his spare time to his hobby.
Following the hearing, she said in a statement: "The family takes comfort in the fact that Bob died doing something he loved."