Train Death Inquest
A 16-year-old student wearing stiletto heels slipped to her death beneath a train during a Saturday night out with a friend, an inquest heard today.
The combination of the heels plus a high level of alcohol in Megan Moore's system may have caused her to become unsteady on her feet, investigators said.
She had been running beside the train, tapping on the window of a carriage, as it started to gain momentum.
But she fell through the gap between the platform and the train at Angmering station, near Littlehampton, West Sussex, and died instantly just before midnight on November 21 last year.
An inquest at Worthing Town Hall heard that before the tragedy she had telephoned her father in ``good spirits'' and telling him: ``I love you.''
Megan had been on the night out with friend, Sara Cheevinny-Yos, and together they bought a bottle of vodka and Red Bull before eating at an Indian restaurant in Worthing.
On the return train journey the pair boarded the 22.17 London Victoria to Bognor Regis Southern service and placed the vodka bottle behind a seat.
Off-duty railway cleaner Kelly Tourle said that as she walked through their carriage she and her sister heard glass smashing and turned round to see Megan and Sara.
Miss Tourle said: ``My sister assumed that it had been thrown but I just heard it. My sister said, 'Who threw that?' or something along those lines. They said, 'Oh, it wasn't me' and then we just left it at that.''
Miss Tourle said the two teenagers appeared happy and were not aggressive.
Later, after the train stopped at Angmering station, she told how she turned to see Megan tapping at the window of her carriage from the platform.
``It was more like a whack,'' she said. ``I looked round and there were two girls standing there. We were stationary and then the train was about to start.''
Megan began running beside the train as it started to gain speed, but slipped and fell between the gap, killing her instantly.
Train conductor Stephanie Meek spotted Megan running beside the train after she had gone through her check procedures and indicated to the driver that it was safe to move on.
She said: ``I remember seeing Megan banging on the window and then the train going into motion. I thought, 'What on earth is she doing?' because it's so unusual. Then I thought she might move away.
``I was situated about two carriages away. My next thought was that she must be caught because the train started to pick up speed and she was staying right next to it.
``She then fell and I thought, 'Oh my God, she has fallen'.''
Passenger Louise Byers, a trainee solicitor, said: ``I remember thinking as she was moving with the train that it was a dangerous act.
``My impression was that she had lost balance and fallen. My first reaction was complete shock. Her friend was in complete shock and started screaming.''
Ms Meek indicated to the driver to make an emergency stop.
In a statement, Sara said: ``I was walking out of the station and saw Megan running with her hands against the window of the train. I said 'No' or 'Get off' but I don't think Megan heard me.''
Inspector Gary Ancell, of the British Transport Police (BTP) said Megan had a blood alcohol reading of 242mg per 100ml - making her three times the legal drink-drive limit.
He said: ``The alcohol, plus Megan wearing heels, may have resulted in her becoming unsteady on her feet and falling.''
Derek Epps, head of safety at Southern, said he was satisfied that Megan had not been caught by anything.
He added that staff had abided by the rules and regulations and their investigations had not found any need to tighten their safety processes.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said the death of Megan, a media student at Chichester College who lived with her family in East Preston, West Sussex, illustrated the consequences of young people consuming high levels of alcohol.
Ms Schofield said alcohol can make young people feel ``invincible'' and she expressed hope that other youngsters would gain lessons from the case.
She said: ``I have considered the evidence and I'm satisfied that Megan's death was a tragic accident.''
She added: ``I'm satisfied that nobody could have prevented this tragic accident happening.''
The inquest heard that Sussex Police was investigating the store which sold the vodka to the girls.
In a statement outside the hearing, Megan's family said she was a ``caring and fun-loving'' girl whose death had impacted on the lives of many people.
They said: ``Megan was really happy and enjoyed life.
``She was excited and optimistic about her future after starting a media course at college, which she was working hard at and enjoying immensely.
``Megan will be remembered by her family and many friends for her kind nature, her wicked sense of humour and her infectious smile.''