Near miss at rail crossing brings back all the pain for Rhos woman


Garth ApThomas

THE family of a teenager killed at a level crossing say a near-miss involving two youngsters on the same crossing has reopened their emotional wounds.

The community of Rhos was rocked to its core when 14-year-old Victoria Swift was hit by a train and killed on a crossing near Johnstown seven years ago.

And following a shocking near-miss where two 13-year-old girls were almost struck at the same spot last week, Victoria’s family have spoken publicly for the first time about the tragedy.

For her sister Jade, who said she still “can’t stand” to think about what happened to Victoria on that tragic night, last week’s track scare brought everything flooding back.

“This has hurt me so much. It makes me feel as if Victoria has died in vain,” said Miss Swift, 24, of Wern Las, Rhos.

“Every time I think about it, I hurt inside. I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

Ysgol y Grango pupil Victoria was hit by a train at the Bangor Road crossing in January 2007. 

She was struck by the Holyhead- to-Cardiff train not long after it left Wrexham Station.

An inquest found her death was an accident but coroner John Hughes said lessons must be learnt from the tragedy.

Seven years on, Miss Swift said she is still struggling to make sense of what happened.

“I suffer from depression and that is partly down to losing Victoria,” she said. “I was 16 at the time. I can’t stand the thought of what happened that night.

“I would be willing to talk to anyone if it can help to reinforce just how dangerous railways are and how children should not go anywhere near them.

Miss Swift said Victoria, who had two other sisters – Annette Slawson, 33 and Lynsey Slawson, 29, who both live in the Rhos area – would now have been at the age where she could be a mother and bringing up a family of her own.

“I have three sons myself, Harley, aged six, Kameron, aged five and one-year-old Jackson.

“Even though Harley and Kameron are very young, I’ve told them that Aunty Victoria was struck by a train and they should never go down to the rail track.

“Absolutely anything could happen. It would be dangerous for an adult, never mind a child.

“I’m very protective of my sons and I think in part that is due to losing Victoria in such a horrible way.

“As a family we were totally broken-hearted by this tragedy.

“Victoria was a lovely girl. She always thought of others.”

British Transport Police said their officers were called to the Bangor Road crossing on Thursday after two 13-year-old girls were seen trespassing on the tracks.

Cllr David A Bithell, who works for Network Rail, said it was a “very close call” for the young pair.

Over the weekend, Network Rail said it would consider closing the level crossing, which has a history of problems of trespassing. Trains regularly pass at about 70mph.

Speaking out after last week’s scare,Victoria’s mum Nita Williams said she doesn’t want anyone else to endure the trauma she has had to suffer.

In an emotional appeal to parents Mrs Williams, 55, said: “I think of Victoria each and every day. She is never far from my mind.

“The night she died was the worst of my entire life. I’d never want anyone else to suffer like that.

“I’d ask all parents to reinforce the dangers of the railways to their children. Stress that to them.

“It’s not a place for playing at all. Please take notice.

“A rail track is dangerous. The trains come so fast any child would have no chance.

“I lost my daughter when she was just 14. When it happened, it was so bad.

“At the time, news organisations offered to pay me for my story. I have always refused. The only thing I want back is my daughter and I’m never going to get that.”

Paying tribute to Victoria, Mrs Williams, who has remarried since Victoria’s death to Kevin Williams and now lives in Bonc Wen, Rhos, said: “She was a lovely girl, so bubbly with a beautiful personality. She was keen on Morris dancing.

“It was her ambition to be a social worker. She cared very much for other people and was especially good with the elderly.”

As a young child, Mrs Williams, suffered a stroke which left her with a disability on her left side. She described Victoria as a tower of strength.

“She would do anything for me. Victoria was so good.”

See full story in the Leader

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