Inquest ordeal of family of Grayrigg victim Margaret Masson

Margaret Masson Margaret Masson died of her injuries soon after the crash

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The family of Margaret Masson waited almost five years for the inquest into her death.

They had failed in their bid for a public inquiry, which is why the hearing was so important.

To understand how she died, one of the aims of the inquest was to find out what the circumstances were leading up to the crash.

As a result, the family had to absorb days and days of technical evidence, during which time Margaret Masson's name was never mentioned.

The family also came face to face with employees of Network Rail, including the man who patrolled the line five days before the train de-railed.

David Lewis was a maintenance manager and forgot to inspect the set of points which caused the derailments.

He admitted it to his boss the day after the crash. At the inquest Mr Lewis said he told him "that is down to me... it's my responsibility".

At that point of the hearing, his voice trembled. He looked away and wiped his eyes.

His barrister referred to it as a "tragic mistake" and the crash was a tragedy for so many people in so many ways.

The inquest heard that at the time some Network Rail staff were still on sick leave after the Tebay rail accident three years before. Four of their colleagues had been killed by a runaway trailer.

Changed travel plans

It was also revealed that the Margaret Masson and her daughter and son-in-law were not originally due to travel on that service.

They had been due to travel from Preston to Glasgow the following day, but decided to change their plans.

Some of the evidence portrayed their sheer terror the moment their carriage overturned.

Margaret Masson's son-in-law Richard Langley made a written statement a few months after the crash.

He remembered "being 6ft in the air" then "hanging, slumped across a table, looking down the other side of the carriage".

Network Rail maintenance manager David Lewis Maintenance manager David Lewis did not check the set of points which caused the derailment

He saw his wife lying face down across a window, and her mother lying across her. He remembered them crying out to each other before he was loaded on to a helicopter.

Shortly afterwards, Margaret Masson was pronounced dead.

However, the hearing has also reminded people of the courage and collaboration that aided the rescue effort that night.

The driver Iain Black stretched for his mobile phone and called for help, even though he had a broken neck, and villagers came out with 4x4s and quad bikes to help the emergency services.

Four nights later engineers were still at work. With no cars allowed near the site there was nowhere to sit or take shelter in the freezing cold.

Suddenly, the WRVS arrived offering everybody hot soup.

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