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Home   Sittingbourne   News   Article

Coroner in call for rail safety action after Sheerness pool player Aaron Armstrong's suicide at Simpson's Crossing in Bobbing

15 August 2014
by James Walker

The family of a 30-year-old man who took his own life by stepping in front of a train have paid tribute to a "kind and gentle person".

An inquest heard how keen sportsman Aaron Armstrong had suffered gambling problems.

He had battled the addiction for five years and was experiencing severe financial problems at the time of his death.

Popular golfer Aaron Armstrong, who lived in St George’s Avenue, Sheerness

Popular golfer Aaron Armstrong, who lived in St George’s Avenue, Sheerness

The popular pool and golf player travelled to Simpson's Crossing near the Bobbing Apple complex, where he suffered multiple injuries, on May 19.

In a statement after the inquest at the Archbishop's Palace, Maidstone, his family said: "Aaron was a caring and popular young man who touched the lives of everyone who knew him. We were privileged to have him in our lives."

A solicitor for Network Rail told how a new warning system has now been fitted at the crossing - the same spot where another suicide took place just months earlier.

But coroner Patricia Harding told the track operator to take more action following the two tragedies.

She heard Mr Armstrong was a scaffolder by trade and from a loving family.

But he developed a gambling addiction and financial difficulties haunted him for five years, the inquest was told.

Aaron Armstrong was hit by a train at Simpsons Crossing, near the Bobbing Apple complex

Aaron Armstrong was hit by a train at Simpsons Crossing, near the Bobbing Apple complex

He was living in St George's Avenue, Sheerness, with his father at the time of his death and two months earlier said he had thought about being hit by a train.

It was also heard he tried to take his own life in 2009. Mrs Harding recorded a suicide verdict.

"He was a kind and gentle person. We were privileged to have him in our lives..." - Aaron Armstrong's family

In a statement, Mr Armstrong's family said: "Aaron was a caring and popular young man who touched the lives of everyone who knew him.

"He was a kind and gentle person. We were privileged to have him in our lives.

"We would like to thank all our friends and family for the support we have received since Aaron's tragic death, which has been a hugely difficult time for us.

"We will always miss him and will always be thinking of him."

Mr Armstrong's death was the second suicide to take place at the crossing in five months.

Shortly before Christmas, mother-of-two Joelli Budd died after she was also hit by a train.

Following her death, and before Mr Armstrong's, Network Rail placed Samaritans boards on either side of the crossing.

Pool player Aaron Armstrong died after being hit by a train at Bobbing

Pool player Aaron Armstrong died after being hit by a train at Bobbing

But coroner Mrs Harding feared this measure is not enough.

Sian Williams, a Network Rail solicitor attending the inquest, said a new warning system has been fitted at the crossing.

This tells people of an oncoming train by playing a noise similar to a horn. This was already planned to be installed before Mr Armstrong died.

She added the operator is considering building a footbridge because of a proposed new residential development nearby.

Mrs Harding described these actions as commendable, but asked if more could be done.

She asked if Network Rail had considered fitting CCTV near the station, but the solicitor did not know.

A report will now be written and sent to Network Rail asking it to consider improvements.


 

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