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Commuter Barbara Smith 'owes her life' to heroes Gareth Acres and Billy McPhail who jumped onto tracks at Strood Railway station after she fell

By Lynn Cox

A woman who fell onto the tracks at Strood Station says she owes her life to the two heroes who leapt to save her.

Commuter Barbara Smith is now recovering at her Strood home after her track ordeal.

The 63-year-old tripped and fell onto the line just moments before her train, a high-speed service into the capital, was pulling into the station.

Mrs Smith says she owes her life to her Strood station rescuers

The train was just feet away as she tumbled running to catch it.

But Gareth Acres and Billy McPhail sprang into action with no thought of the danger.

Mr McPhail, a soldier, who lives in Essex, jumped on the track first.

He also ran across both lines to reach Mrs Smith, who had broken her ankle.

Mr Acres, who was reading a newspaper, realised what was happening as he saw people peering at the track and joined Mr McPhail to help rescue the injured Mrs Smith.

Gareth Acres, from Strood, leapt in to help a woman who fell in front of a train

Other commuters on the platform at 6am last Thursday alerted station staff who warned all train drivers heading for the station to show caution and slow down.

Others also helped and between them they managed to lift and push her back onto the platform to safety just moments before the train arrived.

Speaking from her home in Strood this week Mrs Smith, who is a purchase ledger clerk based in Whitechapel, confirmed she had broken her ankle during the fall and has said she owes her life to the men who rushed to her aid.

Video: The dramatic rescue... as it happened

She said: “Usually my husband drops me at the station as the train is coming around the corner from Rochester and I walk along the platform to the end where the train comes to a stop and I get on.

“I must have been a few seconds late or something as I ran and I just must have tripped.

Billy McPhail outside Strood station where he helped save a woman's life

“I just remember toppling over the platform. I couldn’t stop myself and all I kept thinking is I’m going to hit the live rail. I was panicking that I was going to land on that. I didn’t black out or anything.

“Then I was thinking the train is going to hit me but the next thing I know they [the men] are pulling me and pushing me back onto the platform.

“I didn’t even realise I had broken my ankle until I looked down and saw the state of my foot. My toes and foot were all twisted and facing the other way.

“I really do owe my life to those guys, I really do. I can’t thank them enough.”

The dramatic moments after Mrs Smith fell onto the tracks at Strood railway station
Passengers help out after Mrs Smith fell onto the tracks

Mrs Smith was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital. She had an operation on her foot and now has pins in her ankle and can only walk with a frame.

“I really do owe my life to those guys, I really do. I can’t thank them enough" - Barbara Smith

She added: “I will be out of action for about four to six weeks the hospital has told me.

“I have to keep my leg elevated, I can’t put my foot to the ground.

“It’s all bandaged up and when the pins are taken out in a few weeks, I will have plaster cast put on the leg.

“I must also thank the staff at the hospital on Pembroke Ward, who really looked after me, they couldn’t have been any nicer.”

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