'Happy' schoolgirl died as she was struck by a train while looking at her phone

Evie Wright (Wright family/SWNS)
Evie Wright (Wright family/SWNS)

A ‘happy and kind’ teenager was struck and killed by a train as she walked across a level crossing looking at her phone, an inquest has heard.

Popular Evie Wright, 15, a high-achieving pupil who excelled at sports and ‘loved life’, was ‘on the track looking at her phone’ just before she was struck.

She was found lying face down across the railway tracks at Corondale Crossing in Worle, Somerset in March 6, 2018, after being struck by a train at 36mph.

The hearing was told that Evie was seen with her head down and was looking at her phone just before opening the gate.

Flowers left in tribute for Evie, following her tragic death (SWNS)
Flowers left in tribute for Evie, following her tragic death (SWNS)

Evie ‘kept looking down at her phone, like she was checking the time’ and was struck by the locomotive, the witness said.

A coroner said she could find no ‘evidence that Evie intended to harm herself or take her own life’ and says she will write to the council to ask for a footbridge to be installed.

Evie’s father Lee Wright told the inquest: ‘This has been going on since 1991, 11 years before my daughter was born, 27 years before she died.

‘Whilst all this is going on in the background, children are trying to cross this crossing. Our daughter is not the first to die like this.’

Evie was described as someone who loved life (SWNS)
Evie was described as someone who loved life (SWNS)

In a statement, one of her teachers, Mandy Smith, said Evie had left halfway through a school trampolining lesson crying on the day, but was later behaving normally.

Simon Harkus, who was driving the Great Western Railway train, claimed in a statement that he saw Evie looking up at the train seconds before it hit her.

He said: ‘I was travelling at approximately 25-30mph as I approached the foot crossing, and as I drew close to the crossing, I saw a young girl waiting on the right side.

‘I saw her looking up at me as she stepped towards the crossing. There was nothing I could do to stop my train at such a short distance.

The tragic incident took place in Somerset (SWNS)
The tragic incident took place in Somerset (SWNS)

‘I saw the girl hunch down as though bracing herself, and then I felt the impact as the train hit her.’

Avon Coroners Court heard North Somerset Council granted planning permission in 2000 to build a footbridge over the line, less than 400m from where Evie was killed.

However, with the privatisation and split of British Rail into three separate companies in 1996, and the bankruptcy of the original developers, the plans never went ahead, the inquest was told.

Natasha Deakin, Evie’s mother, said there was ‘a deep sadness’ throughout the family.

Senior Coroner Maria Voisin, at Avon Coroners Court, recorded a narrative conclusion at Evie’s inquest.

She said she will be writing to North Somerset Council and development company Persimmon Homes to recommend the building of a footbridge.

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