THE parents of a teenager who was seriously injured when he was hit by a train spoke for the first time last night to thank the hospital staff who battled to save their son's life.

Ben Woods lost his left arm and leg in the accident, which happened on the East Coast main line, near Darlington, on Monday. The youth, who was celebrating his 17th birthday, is still fighting for his life in Middlesbrough General Hospital.

Investigating officers from British Transport Police believe that the teenager stepped out of the way of an on-coming train directly into the path of a GNER express travelling on a parallel line.

The youth lost his arm immediately and was flown to the Middlesbrough hospital, where surgeons battled in vain to save his left leg.

Last night, his anguished parents revealed that doctors may have to amputate his remaining foot.

Ben's father, Paul Woods, spoke of the family's horror when they were told the news.

He said: "At approximately 4pm on Monday, we received the call every parent dreads. 'Your son has been hit by a train and has lost his right arm.'

"Ben has since lost his left leg and may lose his right foot. He is in surgery at the moment to find the extent of his head, spine and internal injuries and to try and save his foot."

Mr Woods praised the efforts of hospital staff who had saved his son's life by stabilising him after he arrived, despite his terrible injuries.

"We know he is receiving the best possible treatment and cannot speak highly enough of all the staff at Middlesbrough General Hospital," he said.

Ben was hit by an express travelling from King's Cross to Newcastle at Hilltop Farm, Hurworth, near Darlington.

Transport police are still trying to establish how and why the youngster, from Banks Terrace, Hurworth - only yards from the line - came to be on the tracks.

His parents believe their son may have been trying to get to work.

"Everyone realises he should not have been on the line," said Mr Woods. "But he was taking a short cut to work and has received the worst possible lesson."

The family thanked their friends for rallying round after the accident.

"We would like to thank neighbours, friends and family for their support, and hope that Ben's friends do not forget him and are strong enough to help him in the coming months and years," he said.