'Talented' teenager electrocuted after tripping over live train tracks

‘Talented’ 17-year-old boy died after tripping on electrified railway tracks and ‘bursting into flames’, inquest hears

  • Callum Evans, from Southampton, died instantly after falling onto the live tracks 
  • Teen had spent day drinking with friends in Bournemouth before the accident 
  • His father, Neil, argued his death could have been avoided with clearer signage 
  • Coroner Jason Pegg expressed his concerns in wake of Callum’s death and demanded Network Rail complete a prevention of future deaths report 

A coroner has called for Network Rail to improve warning signs at a railway station after a teenager was electrocuted after tripping onto live tracks. 

Callum Evans, 17, from Southampton, Hampshire, was described as ‘talented’ at an inquest into his death, after he fell over a live rail and was killed instantly as his friends could only watch on.

One friend who was with him told the hearing she had ‘no idea’ the rail was live otherwise they would never have walked onto the tracks.

British Transport Police said officers were called to the station shortly before midnight and Callum, a sixth form student at Peter Symonds College in Winchester, Hants, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

His father, Neil Evans, said he believed his son’s death could have been avoided if there had been clear signage highlighting the extreme danger the ‘third rail’ posed.

A coroner decided the lack of warnings was a concern and ordered a prevention of future deaths report to be carried out by National Rail.

‘Talented’ teenager Callum Evans (above) tripped and fell onto live tracks at Hinton Admiral railway station, electrocuting himself immediately an inquest has heard

The teenager had spent the afternoon with three friends on the beach at Bournemouth on September 15, 2020, where they drank Malibu in slushy drinks and wine, an inquest at Winchester has heard.

His friend told the hearing that the group went for a swim and drank the Malibu and bottle of wine another friend had bought, before going to Wagamama’s in the town and getting some food.

She said that everyone was in such a ‘great mood’ they lost track of time and missed the last train back to Ashurst, Hants, which was the nearest station to Callum’s home in Totton. 

After missing their train home, the father of one of the group gave them a lift back to Hinton Admiral railway station in the New Forest where the remaining three intended to catch a taxi.

But as they waited, Callum, who was studying A-Levels at Peter Symonds College in Winchester and his two friends climbed down onto the tracks until the teenager tripped and fell on to the live track, electrocuting him instantaneously, the hearing was told.

Friend Elspeth Hargreaves said in a statement read to the inquest: ‘We were running around the tracks, it was all for a bit of fun, I wasn’t aware that any rail was live with electricity, if I had known this then I wouldn’t have gone trackside.

‘We all got back on the platform and a train came through at fast speed.

‘After the train came through I felt uneasy about going on the track.

‘Callum then went back on his own and started playing on the tracks.

‘Callum was laid on the tracks and wasn’t moving, we called out to Callum ‘Get up’, when he didn’t move I knew something was wrong, I called the police and ambulance and then noticed Callum was alight with fire and there was smoke coming from him.’

Callum and two friends jumped onto the tracks at Hinton Admiral railway station, New Forest (pictured). His friend said she noticed Callum was alight and smoke was coming from him

Giving evidence today, Callum’s father Neil Evans said his son loved rugby, basketball and karate and planned to go to university to study Geography.

He said: ‘Callum was very popular child with lots of friends really enjoying life*

‘He was very friendly had time for everyone he was going to go to university.

‘He played rugby for a local team and played basketball for many years. He loved his travel and went to many different countries in his young life and wanted to do more.’

Mr Evans said he thought his son’s death could have been avoided if there was better signage at the railway station.

Callum, 17, died as a result of electrocution with alcohol a contributing factor after toxicology tests showed he was 2.7 times over the legal limit. Pictured: Winchester Coroners Court

A post-mortem examination revealed that Callum died as a result of electrocution with alcohol as a contributing factor after toxicology tests showed he was 2.7 times over the drink-drive limit.

Kevin Pratt, of the design out crime unit of British Transport Police, said that the only signs warning of the dangers of trespassing and of the live rail were at the end of the platforms where they slope down.

He said: ‘For 10 years I have continually asked for the railway industry to put in better warning signs, my suggestion is ‘Danger of Death’ like at an electrical substation.’

Coroner Jason Pegg said he would be sending a preventing future deaths report to Network Rail which is responsible for signage which gives the organisation 56 days to explain how it is responding to his concerns.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, he said: ‘The organisation responsible for signage at Hinton Admiral Railway Station is Network Rail and I am going to send them a preventing future deaths report expressing my concerns.’ 

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