‘A sight I’d never want to see again’

THE most haunting of any accident I covered as a press photographer was at the fatal train crash in Berkshire.

Seven people died and five seriously injured after a high-speed train hit a car on an unmanned level crossing on Saturday, November 6 2004.

All eight carriages of the 5.35pm First Great Western service from Paddington to Plymouth were derailed in the accident near Ufton Nervet, Berkshire. The train, carrying about 300 people, hit the car at around 6.15pm.

An off-duty Thames Valley police officer saw the vehicle drive onto the crossing and the barriers come down.

I got a call from the Western Morning News picture desk around 9am; they wanted me to head up to the accident site because there were people on the train that would have been from Devon or Cornwall.

It was dark when I arrived at the press assembly point, which was a village pub. It stayed open all night as the media numbers grew. We were told we would not be allowed down to the crash site until the morning so the only thing to do was get some sleep in the car.

We were bussed down to the crossing to a sight nobody wants to see in their lifetime; an express train concertinaed like a toy train set, the stillness in the air and the lack of bird song made the experience very eerie. To think that a single car on the tracks had caused such a catastrophic crash with seven people dead was alarming.

To see a small, bashed up car and then to look at the size of the devastation of a train with the engine and eight carriages spread out in front of us was shocking, something I never want to see again.

Woodmead Halls

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