Man crushed by Tube train despite alarm: Passengers tried in vain to alert driver

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A MAN died after being crushed under a London Underground train that continued to pull out of a station after passengers activated the emergency alarm, an inquest was told yesterday.

Jason Woodley, 24, of Hampstead, north London, stumbled and lost his footing at Leicester Square station in June after drinking seven pints of cider to celebrate finishing an exam. He fell off the platform at 11.15pm and landed on his back on the coupling mechanism between the two rear carriages.

A friend, Kaz Moy, 21, told St Pancras coroner's court that he had held Mr Woodley's right leg to prevent him falling back further. But before he could pull his friend clear the doors closed and the train moved off.

Mr Woodley was dragged 36ft (11m) up the platform and came to rest with his skull, ribs, spine and arms broken by the impact, the jury was told. He died minutes after being lifted clear.

Paul Williams, a British Rail employee, was one of several passengers inside the Piccadilly Line train so concerned by witnesses' screaming and banging that he pulled the emergency cord as the train moved out of Leicester Square. But it did not stop until the next station, Covent Garden.

'I said to the driver at Covent Garden, 'Why didn't you stop the train?' He said to me he thought the alarm might have been at fault,' Mr Williams said.

David O'Hare, the driver, said there were no problems on the platform that he was aware of when he left Leicester Square. He said that by the time the alarm went off it was too late for him to stop before reaching Covent Garden. Other employees testified that passengers on the platform could not have stopped the train moving off, as only the Victoria Line offered emergency buttons on the outside of carriages which, when pushed, deactivate the tracks.

The nine jurors returned a verdict of accidental death. But the coroner, Dr Douglas Chambers, said he would be recommending that measures be taken to prevent such deaths. At least four people have died in similar circumstances in the last three years.

Leonard Woodley, a barrister, said he believed his son would not have died if there had been a guard on the train.

A London Underground spokesman said later that safety was being improved in spite of cuts in government funding. 'Perspex barriers with doors which open at the same time as the Tube train doors will be built on platforms in the Jubilee Line extension, and alarms on Central Line trains will allow passengers to talk back to the driver,' he added.