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Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 18 August 2010 16:51 UK
Reading woman remembers horror of Paddington rail crash
Pam Warren
Pam Warren became known as the lady in the mask

Pam Warren's life changed forever at 0809BST on 5 October 1999 when the train she was travelling on collided with another at 130mph.

The Reading woman underwent numerous operations and wore a plastic mask over her face for 23 hours of each day for 18 months so her burns could heal.

She became known as the public face of the disaster - the lady in the mask.

After the crash, Ms Warren campaigned to improve rail safety, heading up the Paddington Survivors' Group.

In the tenth year of her recovery after the disaster, she no longer regards herself as a victim.

Face burnt

She uses her experiences to help others who have been affected by disfigurement or burns.

Speaking to BBC Radio Berkshire, she described the horrific injuries she had suffered in the crash.

"I practically managed to have my face burnt off and my hands. I lost all the skin on the back of those.

"There was burning to my legs, they were still alight while I was on the train," she said.

Ms Warren, who lost all her hair due to burns, said that she had become "bossy" immediately after the crash.

Induced coma

"I was reeling off telephone numbers and asking people to phone people for me.

"And I was trying to crack jokes at the time, I think that was a survival mechanism.

"A doctor came over and gave me a shot of morphine. After that, I don't remember anything for three weeks."

Pam Warren
Ms Warren has helped other disaster victims since the rail crash

Ms Warren was put into a drug induced coma by doctors to avoid her going into shock and dying.

"They were performing lots of operations, taking the charred skin off, amputating some of my fingertips, applying stuff to my face," she said.

"So when I eventually woke up in intensive care, it all came as a bit of a surprise to me as to why I was there and what had happened."

The Paddington rail crash was caused after a Thames Trains diesel leaving Paddington station crashed almost head-on with a London-bound high-speed Great Western train.

Subsequently it transpired that Thames Trains driver Michael Hodder had gone through a red signal which had been passed seven times in the five years before the crash.

Lord Cullen conducted a public inquiry into the accident and was highly critical of Network Rail's predecessor company, Railtrack, and of Thames Trains.

Thames Trains was fined £2m and later, in 2007, Network Rail was fined £4m for health and safety breaches in connection with the Paddington crash.



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