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Fatal accident inquiry to be held into death of pedestrian hit by Edinburgh tram | UK News

A fatal accident inquiry is to be held into the death of a pedestrian who was hit by an Edinburgh tram on his way home from work.

Bus driver Carlos Hernan Correa Palacio, 53, died after he was struck at a crossing in the Saughton area of the capital on 11 September 2018.

Edinburgh Trams Limited (ETL) was fined £240,000 last year after admitting a breach of health and safety legislation over the incident in a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The court heard how the driver sounded his bell a number of times and began to slow the tram down when he spotted Mr Correa.

He applied the emergency brake, which also set off the tram’s warning horn, but Mr Correa was killed.

The Crown Office said there were no issues with the tram driver and he had responded to the situation in accordance with his training.

The tram was in working order and the braking system functional.

Saughton Mains crossing around the time of the incident. Pic: Crown Office
Saughton Mains crossing around the time of the incident. Pic: Crown Office

Prosecutors said there had been no assessment of a foreseeable risk to pedestrians at the Saughton Mains crossing from an approaching tram prior to the incident, despite a near miss in November 2016.

ETL failed to carry out a sufficient risk assessment of the layout of the crossing, and to ensure it provided sufficient notice and warning to pedestrians, the court heard.

The company also failed to assess the loudness of audible warning devices, or the emergency braking distances of trams approaching the crossing.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has now lodged a first notice to begin the court process for a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into Mr Correa’s death.

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The purpose of an FAI includes determining the cause of death, the circumstances in which the death occurred, and establishing what, if any, reasonable precautions could have been taken, and could be implemented in the future, to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

The FAI will explore the circumstances of Mr Correa’s death, with a focus on the process of risk assessment and safety management at ETL.

Issues surrounding pedestrian safety at non-motorised user (NMU) crossings and an assessment of the audibility of warning systems fitted to ETL trams will also be looked at.

The inquiry is also expected to consider the structure for oversight and information sharing within the tram sector, including among regulators, operators, and other interested parties.

Unlike criminal proceedings, FAIs are inquisitorial in nature, and are used to establish facts rather than to apportion blame.

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Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on death investigations for COPFS, said: “The tragic death of Carlos Correa occurred in circumstances giving rise to significant public concern and as such a discretionary fatal accident inquiry will be held.

“The lodging of the first notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the sheriff.

“Mr Correa’s family will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress.” 

A preliminary hearing will take place on 31 May at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Croydon tram crash driver tells court he is ‘deeply sorry’ and ‘in some ways I held myself responsible’ | UK News

The driver in the Croydon tram disaster has described to jurors the moment he “collapsed” when he was told passengers had died.

Alfred Dorris also told the Old Bailey “in some ways” he held himself “responsible” for the crash which killed seven passengers.

He was allegedly driving the tram at three times the speed he was supposed to be doing before it derailed on a sharp curve at Sandilands in south London.

As well as the seven deaths, 19 people were seriously injured.

The 49-year-old is on trial for failing to take “reasonable care” of the health and safety of himself and the 69 passengers on Tram 2551 on 9 November 2016.

The prosecution alleged Dorris may have had a “micro-sleep” or become disorientated before the crash.

On Thursday, he broke down in front of the victims’ families as he gave evidence for the first time.

He wiped away tears as he described being arrested and put in the back of a police van after the crash, having never been in trouble before.

The scene near the tram crash in Croydon, Surrey, as the investigation into the deadly crash continues.
The scene near the tram crash in Croydon in 2016

The married father-of-one said: “I was told that I was being arrested for manslaughter because of multiple fatalities.

“I was broken. I could not believe what I was hearing.”

On arrival at a police station, he said: “I broke down. One of the officers kind of put his hand on my shoulder, tapped me in a reassuring way that was quite nice, to be honest. I was taken to a police cell.”

Later, he was released under investigation and took his family to stay in a hotel for four weeks due to the intense media interest in the disaster.

Read more:
Passengers ‘flung around’ during deadly tram crash
Families say ‘justice has been suffocated’

On his state of mind at the time, he said: “I was just all over the place, just broken, disbelief at what had happened.

“In some ways I held myself responsible for what happened. I could not explain how it happened.”

The defendant said lighting in the tunnel on the approach to the sharp turn where the derailment happened was “inconsistent”, and in the dark he had to rely on his “route knowledge and experience as a driver”.

Dorris said he got “confused” before the crash but not due to a lack of concentration as it had been a “normal average” day up until that point.

He went on to say how he continued to “struggle” with what happened and reached his “lowest point” during the lockdown when he was unable to start treatment for a “severe case of PTSD”, eventually leading to the breakdown of his marriage.

Asked what he would have done if he had felt tired before a shift, he said: “I could have just explained I was not feeling fit to work and they would sign me off.”

Flowers left at the scene near the tram crash in Croydon
Flowers left at the scene in 2016

The court heard how Dorris had applied to work on the trams in 2008 as a “stepping stone” to realise his ambition of becoming a train driver on the railways.

Previously, he had also worked early shifts as a bus driver and a milkman.

In his job as a bus driver, his only accident had been a “little scuff” with a car at Sloane Square on his first day out on his own, the defendant said.

Dorris, from Beckenham, southeast London, denies a single charge of failing to take reasonable care at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.