Frantic scramble failed to save mother hit by train
A frantic scramble failed to save a young mother from being hit by a speeding train, an inquest has heard, after she may have tried to “scare” her boyfriend following an argument.
Charlene Pickering, 23, from Lyndehouse, Vicarage Fields, in Walton, was on her way back from Stamford Bridge after watching Chelsea play Portsmouth when she was killed on the tracks at Wimbledon station on Sunday, January 8.
At an inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court on Monday, boyfriend Daniel Pickett told the court how Miss Pickering had climbed onto the tracks after throwing her phone onto the railway line during an argument.
After leaving to find help in retrieving it, Mr Pickering told the court he could not find Miss Pickering on his return and shouted out to her, only to realise she was on the tracks herself.
In a statement read out in court, Miss Pickering's mother, Pamela Pollington, said: "Neither I nor any of her family know why she went on to the tracks that day.
"It could have been to retrieve her phone which had been thrown on the tracks, but she climbed down on the opposite platform to which the phone was on.
"It’s possible that she had an argument [with her boyfriend] and was trying to scare him."
CCTV images showed Miss Pickering climbing onto the tracks on the opposite side to where her phone was thrown before attempting to climb back onto the platform.
She was spotted by station supervisor Olu Owalabi, who was seen trying to pull Miss Pickering to safety just seconds before the Waterloo to Exeter train passed through the station at 75mph - striking Miss Pickering and killing her instantly.
Mr Owalabi did not attend the court hearing on medical grounds, having been traumatised by the event.
The train was driven by a trainee driver and a supervisor who had slammed on the emergency brakes after spotting Mr Owalabi and a person on the tracks.
Ms Kay Lane, coroner liaison officer for the British Transport Police, said it had been a "matter of seconds" from when staff were alerted to Miss Pickering’s presence on the tracks to when the train passed through the station.
The court also heard how Miss Pickering had been left with an "obvious limp" after being hit by a lorry while cycling in Hersham as a schoolgirl in 2000, leaving her with a crushed pelvis.
Coroner, Dr Shirley Radcliffe, said Miss Pickering's condition may have made it more difficult for her to climb back up from the track.
Ms Pollington said: "The platform was deceptively high and with her disability regarding her previous accident she wouldn’t have been able to climb back up."
She described her daughter, who leaves behind a four-year-old son, as loving and sociable with a "tremendously bubbly" personality.
Recording a verdict of death by misadventure on September 24, coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said the incident had been a "tragic accident".
She said: "The family can take a crumb of comfort in that her injuries would have caused her to die immediately and there would have been no suffering."