Widower donned best suit before being hit by train - inquest

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A WIDOWER who struggled to come to terms with the death of his wife complained of being ‘fed up’ hours before walking into the path of a train, an inquest heard.

Eric William Butcher, 83, of Parson Cross, Sheffield was killed after being struck on the railway line near Chapeltown Station.

An inquest at Sheffield’s Medico Legal Centre heard how the father-of-seven had found it difficult to cope after losing Mabel, his wife of 60 years, in 2010.

Daughter Julia Savage noticed he was becoming increasingly frustrated with a catheter he had fitted when she visited him on March 30 last year - the last time she would ever see her father.

She said the pensioner had donned his best suit and ordered a taxi to take him to the Royal British Legion Club in Ecclesfield later that evening.

But instead of going into his usual haunt, Mr Butcher used his two walking sticks to make his way towards the north-bound platform Chapeltown station.

Thomas Brown, a driver with Excel Taxis, said: “I’ve collected Mr Butcher on many occasions and I noticed he was very quiet, not his usual self.”

Minutes later, eyewitness Faye Housley, a Hallam University student, noticed Mr Butcher walking along the track. She dialled 999 when he was hit by the north-bound train travelling at 60mph seconds later.

A post-mortem exam revealed Mr Butcher died from skull fractures and a tear to the wall of the heart.

The inquest heard train driver Peter James had applied the emergency brakes and sounded his horn.

Mr James said: “I feel terrible about the incident and I’m constantly thinking about what happened.”

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Donald Coutts-Wood said: “His behaviour was unusual but that is not sufficient for me to be sure he intended to take his own life.”