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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Train crash hero praised
train wreckage
Philip Scotcher pulled badly injured man from wreckage
A passenger involved in the Paddington rail crash has described how he helped drag a badly burned man to safety.

Philip Scotcher, 24, from Tetbury in Gloucestershire, was commended for his heroic act at the public inquiry into the fateful rail crash on 5 October.

It heard how Mr Scotcher helped drag 18-stone, 6ft 7in Michael Adams to safety after finding him sitting down engulfed in flames.

He then used a tiny block of wood to put out the flames on the body of a woman he also helped away from the crash scene.

Mr Scotcher described how the piercing screams he heard coming from the Thames train was "the most horrible sound" he had ever heard.

May I commend you for your enormous courage

John Hendy QC
John Hendy QC, representing the injured and bereaved, commended Mr Scotcher for his enormous courage.

"Thank you on behalf of Michael Adams whose life you almost certainly saved," he said.

It was the first day of evidence by witnesses into the crash between a Thames train and a London-bound Great Western Express on 5 October, 1999.

Emergency training

The Thames train, driven by inexperienced driver Michael Hodder, 31, went through a red signal at Ladbroke Grove near Paddington in west London.

Mr Hodder, the Great Western driver Brian Cooper, 52, and 29 passengers were killed in the crash.

The inquiry also heard from Virgin Trains manager Mike Thomas, a passenger on the Great Western train, who said he had much more frequent emergency training under British Rail than he had since privatisation

He told the inquiry how he had helped secure the track following the track to prevent other trains from crashing into the wreckage.

Before day three of the inquiry began, survivors and the families of victims called on rail passengers to boycott the train network on 6 June.

The inquiry also heard a letter written by Great Western train passenger Paul Lukins to Great Western the day after the accident.

He suffered whiplash injuries and a bruised bottom when he fell on the track after escaping from the train.

His letter said the train doors were locked and it was not immediately clear how to open them.

He said passengers then faced a steep and difficult drop from the train to the ground below.

Mr Lukins suggested that train companies supply emergency ramps similar to airlines and provide easily accessible tools to use in the case of an emergency.

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