Rail barriers ‘could have saved’ pregnant teacher, inquest told

Kay Stanley.who died in Australia, originally from South Yorkshire
Kay Stanley.who died in Australia, originally from South Yorkshire
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A pregnant teacher killed when her car was hit by a train may have survived if barriers had been in place at the level crossing, an inquest heard today.

Kay Stanley, also an actress who had toured with The Tweenies, died after her car was struck and pushed 170m along the tracks before it was crushed against the station in Tyabb near Melbourne, Australia, in January 2008.

Boom barriers were due to be installed as part of new safety arrangements at the crossing in 2007 but delays meant that construction was suspended. They were eventually installed two weeks after Kay’s death.

Assistant deputy coroner Julian Fox, recording a narrative conclusion at Sheffield’s Medico Legal Centre this morning, said: “It is entirely possible that if the boom barrier had been in place before January 28, Kay would not have died.”

The coroner did find that Kay had not seen the level crossing’s warning lights or bells, despite witnesses saying that they had.

He added: “A number of different theories have been advanced by witnesses as to why Kay’s car was on the crossing. I have not mentioned them all in this summing-up.

“What is clear is that Kay did not see the warning lights that other people saw, or hear the warning bells that other people heard.”

Kay, who was born in Sheffield and went to school in Rotherham, moved to Australia in 2004.

She was ten weeks pregnant after undergoing IVF treatment and also due to be married at the time of her death. She enjoyed her job as a kindergarten teacher.

Mr Fox added: “In short, she had everything to live for.”

The hearing was adjourned last week after the sole witness, Kay’s mother Gwen Bates, was taken ill.

It previously heard that the train which hit Kay’s car as she drive to meet her kindergarten headteacher had been speeding, but not so fast or for so long that it invoked procedures from train operator VLine.

Mr Fox found that any ‘infringements by the train of speed limits earlier in the journey did not contribute to her death.’

Dr Jane Hendtlass, a coroner in Victoria, has prepared a report considering 26 rail deaths in the state which has made various recommendations.

Mr Fox said he hoped the recommendations would receive ‘careful attention’ from relevant authorities.

See tomorrow’s Star for more on this story.