THE parents of a four-year-old girl who died after the car she was travelling in was crushed by a train at a level crossing spoke of their distress yesterday at losing their “much-loved” daughter.
British Transport Police said Emma Lifsey, who was airlifted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital following the collision at 12.30pm on Tuesday, was pronounced dead in the early hours of yesterday.
In a statement, Emma’s parents, Mark and Zoe Lifsey, aged 40 and 38 respectively, said: “Emma meant the world to us. She was our much-loved daughter and a baby sister to her 11-year-old brother Jack.
“We are still trying to come to terms with the terrible incident on Tuesday afternoon and there are no words that can properly express how utterly distraught we are.
“We would like to thank everyone for the many messages of sympathy and support we have received.
“As you can appreciate, this tragic incident has left us shocked and devastated and we would ask that we can be left to grieve in private at this acutely difficult and sad time for us.”
The collision happened at Beech Hill crossing, Springs Road, Misson Springs, near Doncaster, on the border of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. Mr and Mrs Lifsey’s home is just a few miles away.
The driver, a 67-year-old woman who has not been named by police, was taken to hospital in nearby Doncaster with neck injuries and bruising. She remains in hospital in a stable condition.
A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesman said: “The police investigation into the incident is ongoing and remains very much in the early stages.
“Officers are working hard to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident, including how the vehicle came to be on the tracks at the time. This will include speaking to any witnesses to the incident, while specialist officers will also look at evidence from the scene and the car in question, a black Volvo, which has now been recovered.
“The train, a Lincoln to Doncaster service, was damaged but remained upright and on the tracks. There have been no reports of injuries to passengers or staff on board.”
The spokesman said the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) and Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) had both been notified. The ORR confirmed that it had begun working with police to investigate the crash.
The scene of the collision is about two miles east of the nearest village of Blaxton, in South Yorkshire, on a small country lane that connects the B1396 to the village of Misson, in Nottinghamshire.
Speaking at the scene yesterday, Inspector Andy Selby, from BTP, said he could not comment on whether the barriers and lights were working correctly.
John Mann, MP for Misson Springs, which falls into the Bassetlaw constituency, echoed calls from the RMT trade union for a review of level crossing safety.
He added: “This was an accident waiting to happen. There are many level crossings in my constituency in towns, villages and the countryside and I raised concerns in Parliament about level crossing safety in Bassetlaw in 2010.
“In today’s world people cannot place their lives in the hands of the rail authorities every time they have to cross a level crossing.
“When will this stop? When will action be taken to make our level crossings safe? When will this receive the priority that it deserves?”
East Midlands Trains, which runs the Lincoln to Doncaster service, offered its condolences to Emma’s family and said it was working to support the police investigation.
The company’s managing director, David Horne, said: “We will be doing everything possible in the days ahead to assist the investigation into identifying the cause of this tragic incident.
“Work is continuing to move the train from the incident site to allow normal services to start running again.”