Littleport motorhome train crash driver hailed a hero
Driver battled with failing brakes seconds before crash
The driver of a motorhome which collided with a train at Fenland level crossing has been hailed a hero by his family for struggling with the vehicle after the brakes failed.
A retired King's Lynn couple were in the motorhome as level crossing barriers at Littleport came down on Tuesday, July 5.
The 71-year-old driver realised his brakes were not working and he wouldn't be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
He steered around a stationary car in front of him and onto the track before hitting a train which had just left the station.
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'As far as his family are concerned, my dad is a hero. He didn't want to hit the car in front and push it into the train so went around it.
'If he had hit the car and shoved it into the train things could have been much worse, someone may have got killed' said his daughter Jo Rust, also of Lynn.
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'The brakes failed and he had no choice. He wasn't overtaking or trying to jump the barriers to beat the train,' she added.
Her father remains in hospital after he suffered foot injuries and her 67-year-old stepmother was released the day after the crash, but returned yesterday for an operation on damaged tendons in her hand. Neither wished to be named.
'The airbags did't go off either, which is why my step-mother had chest and facial injuries as well,' said Ms Rust.
'My dad was a professional driver before he retired and is very experienced. It was his quick-thinking that saved the incident from being much worse than it was.
'He could have just pushed the other car onto the tracks which would have been horrific. Me, my two brothers and sister all think he is a hero for what he did,' said Ms Rust.
The couple had been trapped in the motorhome and had to be released by the emergency services called to the scene at 4.40pm.
No-one on the First Capital Connect train to King's Lynn from Cambridge was injured as a result of the crash, although commuters faced long delays while investigations were carried-out and wreckage removed.
Shuttle buses were provided for passengers while the line was closed until late into the evening.
Road diversions were set-up to send vehicles around the crossing, which is protected by both alarms and automatic half-barriers when a train is passing.
The couple bought the motorhome several months ago and had been out several times with no problems.
British Transport Police are investigating the incident and examining CCTV footage from the scene taken by cameras at the crossing.
A spokesman said yesterday that the motorhome was also undergoing testing and officers would be speaking to the couple once they had recovered.
'We are trying to establish exactly what happened,' she said.