A PREGNANT star of children’s TV show who was killed on a level crossing weeks before her wedding in Australia may have survived if proposed barriers had been installed in time, an inquest heard.
Kay Stanley, 32, an actress who had toured with the Tweenies, died when a train collided with her VW Beetle and pushed it 170m along the tracks before crushing it against a station platform in Tyabb, near Melbourne, on January 28, 2008.
Boom barriers were due to be installed as part of new safety arrangements at the crossing in 2007 but delays meant that construction was suspended.
They were eventually installed at the unmanned crossing two weeks after Kay’s death.
Her mother, nurse Gwen Bates, blamed her daughter’s death on faulty warning lights and the inquest was held after a six-year campaign. Ms Stanley, originally from Rotherham was buried in Australia but in 2010 Mrs Bates won an order to have the body exhumed and repatriated and buried in Britain.
Now the inquest in Sheffield has found that Ms Stanley hadn’t seen the warning lights or heard the warning bells but assistant deputy coroner Julian Fox ruled: “It is entirely possible that if the boom barrier had been in place before January 28, Kay would not have died.”
Mrs Bates was not present at the verdict yesterday after being taken ill during the hearing.
The inquest heard previously that Ms Stanley was 10 weeks’ pregnant after undergoing IVF treatment with her fiancé Brett Vogel.
She had moved to Australia in 2004 to tour with the children’s BBC television show.
A statement from Mr Vogel was read to the court. He said the couple were “just so happy” after finding out their IVF had worked. They were saving news of the pregnancy until Ms Stanley’s mother flew over for their wedding eight weeks later, in March.
One of the train’s two drivers said trees partially blocked the view of the crossing and waiting drivers couldn’t see the track because of a fence. Both drivers said the level crossing warning system was working and the train’s whistle was sounded twice before the impact.
An investigator for rail operator Connex said: “Indications are that the driver of the VW failed to respond.”
A report claimed a data log showed the train had been travelling at around 52mph on stretch of track meant for slightly slower speeds earlier in its journey.
Giving a narrative verdict, Mr Fox said: “What is clear is that Kay did not see the warning lights that other people saw, or hear the warning bells that other people heard.” He found that any “infringements by the train of speed limits earlier in the journey did not contribute to her death”.