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Railway engineer talks woman out of jumping on train tracks at Maidstone Barracks

An off-duty railway engineer successfully intervened when he saw a woman preparing to jump on train tracks.

Dave Saunders was on his way to visit his girlfriend in Strood yesterday, when he saw the woman sat on the edge of the platform at the Maidstone Barracks Train Station at about 5.30pm.

The pair were alone on the platform, and he noted that the bench behind the lady was empty.

Dave Saunders successfully talked a woman off the edge of a platform (9382953)
Dave Saunders successfully talked a woman off the edge of a platform (9382953)

Mr Saunders, who lives in South Ashford, recounts: "I asked her if she was alright and she gave me a blank stare so I knew there was something wrong.

"I asked again and she said 'I want to get hit by a train' and that she didn't want to live anymore.

"I thought 'we have a problem here'."

Looking at the train schedule, he noted that the next timetabled locomotive was due in roughly 14 minutes, giving him time to talk her down.

He quickly called the police, with an operator staying on the line but giving him time to talk to the distressed lady.

Maidstone Barracks station, where the incident took place
Maidstone Barracks station, where the incident took place

The 35-year-old, who works for Network Rail contractor Cleshar, said: "I didn't think I was saying the right things but I was trying to distract her from even setting foot on the tracks.

"I sat down next to her on the edge, just so I was in a position where - if she did jump - I could pull her back onto the platform.

"I was worried that an unscheduled train could come at any time, but from the edge I could see for three quarters of a mile down the track towards Maidstone East.

"She knew I was on the phone to the police, and thankfully they came pretty soon."

A British Transport Police spokesman said: "We were called at 5.41pm on Monday, April 29 to Maidstone Barracks station following a report of a woman sitting on the edge of a platform. Officers attended and the woman was taken to a place of safety."

When asked about his heroic actions, the rail worker said: "I wouldn't say it was heroic, I just wasn't prepared for someone to take their life whilst I was there, so took the necessary steps to try to prevent it which were successful.

"If you're thinking about doing something similar, think twice and think about the people who'll be involved - the driver, the people who'll pick up the pieces and the emergency service responders.

"After eight years as an engineer on the railway, I know the dangers that can happen and the aftermath of an incident like that. It's not a nice thing to see."

When asked what advice he'd give to anyone who finds themselves in his situation, Mr Saunders said: "Just to keep calm. Talk about anything and ask questions, open questions.

"Ask open questions to get them thinking about things other than what they are planning to do.

"Keep them talking and hopefully that will sort it out as it did yesterday."

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact the Samaritans helpline on 116 123, 24 hours a day.

Kent County Council's Release the Pressure campaign can also offer support - call 0800 1070160 or visit releasethepressure.uk for more information.

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Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone


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