Preparations for inquiry into death of Edinburgh man hit by tram 'ongoing' five years on

Carlos Palacio was struck while crossing the road on his way home on September 11, 2018
-Credit: (Image: Police Scotland)

The inquiry into the death of an Edinburgh man who was hit by a tram more than five years ago is in preparation, a court has heard.

Carlos Hernan Correa Palacio, 53, was struck by a tram in the Saughton area on September 11, 2018. The bus driver was making his way home from work, reports the Daily Record.

Edinburgh Trams Limited was fined £240,000 after admitting to a breach of health and safety legislation. At a preliminary hearing, Sheriff Keir that a further hearing would take place on August 22.

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This decision was made to give all parties more time to prepare for what he said was a “clearly very sensitive” and “detailed” matter.

The court heard how the inquiry involved a large number of documents and would be hearing evidence from multiple witnesses, and Sheriff Keir urged all parties to seek to agree as much as possible beforehand “to ensure court time is used efficiently and properly” once the FAI hearing begins.

The organisations represented in the inquiry include: tram operator Edinburgh Trams Ltd; the Rail Accident Investigation Branch; the Office of Rail and Road; and the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board.

Procurator fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on death investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said previously: “The tragic death of Carlos Correa occurred in circumstances giving rise to significant public concern and as such a discretionary fatal accident inquiry will be held.

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“The lodging of the first notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the sheriff. “Mr Correa’s family will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress.”

Following the court hearing last August, the Crown Office said there were no issues with the tram driver’s driving and the tram was in working order.

It said the criminal investigation found Edinburgh Trams Limited (ETL) had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the layout of the crossing, and to ensure that it provided sufficient notice and warning to pedestrians of the crossing itself.

Prosecutors said the company failed to assess the loudness of audible warning devices on Edinburgh trams, or the emergency braking distances of trams approaching the crossing in order to identify and implement adequate control measures to address the hazards.

They also said a near-miss incident at the same crossing in November 2016 was reported but failed to result in any action in relation to the risk assessment.

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Unlike criminal proceedings, FAIs are inquisitorial in nature, and are used to establish facts rather than to apportion blame.

The inquiry will explore the circumstances of Mr Correa’s death, with an anticipated focus on the process of risk assessment and safety management at ETL, in addition to issues surrounding pedestrian safety at non-motorised user crossings and an assessment of the audibility of warning systems fitted to ETL trams.

The inquiry is also expected to consider the structure for oversight and information sharing within the tram sector, including among regulators, operators, and other interested parties.

The purpose of an FAI includes determining the cause of death, the circumstances in which the deaths occurred, and establishing what, if any, reasonable precautions could have been taken, and could be implemented in the future, to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.