Bethan Roper, 28, died in a tragic accident when she leaned out a train window. Picture: Facebook
Bethan Roper, 28, died in a tragic accident when she leaned out a train window. Picture: Facebook

Woman killed after leaning out of train

A woman died after leaning out of the window of a moving train and hitting her head on a tree branch while on her way home from shopping with friends at a Christmas market.

Bethan Roper, 28, a charity worker, from Penarth in south Wales, suffered serious head injuries while travelling between Bath and Keynsham on December 1 2018.

She was pronounced dead at Bristol Temple Meads station.

 

Bethan Roper, a charity worker, died in December 2018. Picture: Facebook
Bethan Roper, a charity worker, died in December 2018. Picture: Facebook

 

Bethan and her friends boarded the train home at about 10pm and the group stayed near the doors as the carriage near to them was full.

One of the group of friends opened the window and at least one other friend of Bethan's leaned out of the window before she did, according to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned pending several expert reports.

Today the RAIB published its findings into the tragic incident. The report noted that Network Rail had not carried out a tree inspection on the stretch of track where the accident happened since 2009.

This meant the branch was close enough for a passenger leaning out of a window to come into contact with it.

"Witness evidence indicates that the passenger had her head out of the window for a few seconds before falling back into the vestibule having sustained a serious head injury," the report said.

 

The branch Bethan hit when she leant out the train window. Picture: RAIB
The branch Bethan hit when she leant out the train window. Picture: RAIB

 

The RAIB noted that a sign warning passengers not to put their head out of the window met industry guidance but "did not adequately convey the level of risk".

Investigators said the use of the word "caution" suggested that leaning out the window could be done safely if done carefully. It was also noted the sign was smaller than other nearby signs and had a yellow background, rather than a more appropriate red.

Great Western Railway said it had planned to upgrade the signs by May 2018, before Ms Roper's death, but this had not been carried out because they were understaffed, and a system to track such work had proved to be inadequate.

 

Investigators found the word ‘caution’, the small size of the sign and the yellow colour did not adequately convey the danger. Picture: RAIB
Investigators found the word ‘caution’, the small size of the sign and the yellow colour did not adequately convey the danger. Picture: RAIB

 

The signs have since been updated to better convey the danger to passengers.

The investigation also found Ms Roper was nearly twice the drink-drive limit when she died, however it is unclear if this was a factor.

The report said: "The toxicology report concluded that the passenger's blood contained 142 milligrams of ethanol per 100 millilitres.

"This is nearly twice the UK legal driving limit of 80 milligrams in 100 millilitres of blood.

"It is generally recognised that this would cause a level of intoxication in the average social drinker which may affect their co-ordination and judgment.

 

The signs have been changed following Ms Roper’s death. Picture: RAIB
The signs have been changed following Ms Roper’s death. Picture: RAIB

 

"However, the actual effect on the passenger involved is unknown."

Speaking previously, Bethan's dad Adrian said: "All of us who knew Bethan have been very privileged. She was beautiful in every way.

"Her goodness and fullness of spirit will live on in our hearts and actions."

Bethan worked for the Welsh Refugee Council, having graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2013.

The charity, a sister organisation to the UK-wide Refugee Council, works to help asylum seekers and refugees in Wales.

She was also a campaigner and chairman of Young Socialists Cardiff.

British Transport Police and the Office of Rail and Road are also investigating.

 

This article originally appeared on The Sun.


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