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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 May, 2003, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Memories of Potters Bar crash
By Duncan Walker
BBC News Online

A year after the Potters Bar train crash killed seven people and injured more than 70, memories of the tragedy remain strong for those involved.

BBC News Online spoke to some of the people who were at the scene about the their feelings on the first anniversary.


"We were travelling at a vast speed off the track and it was a most frightening experience," recalls Canon John Inge.

Potters Bar crash
The crash had a profound impact on many people
"I was not injured and the effect it had on me as the full tragedy became apparent was of being very, very thankful that I had been spared," he said.

Canon Inge remembers getting on the train and walking through the fourth carriage - the one which derailed and was carrying most of those who were killed and injured.

"I was very much aware that it could have been me," he said.

Canon Inge, the acting dean of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshie, will be taking part in one of Saturday's first anniversary memorial services.

"I hope the service and my small part in it may be of some help to those who have been enormously affected by it - those who have been terribly injured or bereaved," he said.


"I just held people's hands and went into the train and talked to people - I could not just sit and watch," said Angela Chesworth.

On the day of the crash she was working at a hairdressers opposite Potters Bar station and was one of the first people to arrive.

All of us in the emergency services who were involved were able to walk away and return to loved ones
Chief Superintendent Andy Wright

"When I sat with one lady she was unconscious and a policeman called me away to talk to someone else," she remembered.

"I could not understand why, but then the paramedics went down on the tracks and said she was dead."

Another woman had a dislocated leg and when her husband called her mobile phone it fell to Ms Chesworth to explain that there had been a crash and that his wife was hurt.

She has not been in touch with any of those people she helped, but said: "Every day I look out of the window at the hairdressers and I see the station and I know I saw horrible things."


"I was there within about 20 minutes of the call and ended up staying 14 hours," said Gary Sanderson, a media officer for Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Ambulance Service.
Gary Sanderson
Gary Sanderson will light a candle at the memorial service

"I was the spokesman for the ambulance crews on that day - I was speaking to TV and radio crews from around the world."

Mr Sanderson, who had previously worked at the Hatfield crash, said: "On the tracks, where the people were being taken off and treated it was surreal and quite silent."

"The bit I could not get my head around was when we stood on the platform and we had this train on its side, wedged under a platform just behind us. I will never forget it."

Despite all the training members of the emergency services do for major incidents, Mr Sanderson said he was surprised at how well those working at Potters Bar coped.

He added: "I can't believe a year has passed and I'm getting ready to go to a memorial service where I will meet the families and the victims.

"I'm lighting a candle at the service and I'm proud to have been asked."


"All of us in the emergency services who were involved were able to walk away and return to loved ones," said Chief Superintendent Andy Wright.

"There were others who would never, ever be the same again."

Mr Wright, who helped run the police operation at Potters Bar, had also been in charge after the nearby Hatfield crash - which killed four people and injured more than 30 in October 2000.

He said the expert work of the emergency services and offers of help from local people made a real difference.

"It was a great tragedy, but there was an enormous amount of public support," Mr Wright said.




SEE ALSO:
Train drivers want Potters Bar 'solved'
08 May 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Author's anger over Potters Bar disaster
08 May 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Solicitor calls for Potters Bar inquiry
07 May 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Potters Bar victims to get 12m
12 Aug 02  |  UK News


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