Northern Ireland

Londonderry tunnel: Lifeguard tells of pair's near-miss with train

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Media captionTrain narrowly misses two people in County Londonderry tunnel

A beach lifeguard has described the dramatic moment two people came within inches of death in a railway tunnel in County Londonderry.

Footage of a train narrowly missing two people who walked into a tunnel in Downhill Strand was released by Translink on Tuesday.

The CCTV film shows Ray Cunningham, 23, waving to the train to warn the driver.

Mr Cunningham, a lifeguard for six years, said he "feared the worst" when seeing the two enter the tunnel.

Image caption Ray Cunningham said the two tourists were unaware the tunnel was still in use

According to Mr Cunningham, the pair were tourists from the Republic of Ireland who entered the tunnel thinking it was abandoned.

"It was two people between 40 and 50-years-old. I got them out to make sure they were ok," he said.

"When I talked to them they said that they were using it because they thought that it was abandoned or not in use.

"This is the first time I've ever seen it happen."

'Alarm bells ringing'

The 26-year-old said he was on patrol at the water's edge and doing his final scan of the beach with his binoculars.

Image copyright Translink
Image caption Mr Cunningham pictured near Downhill Strand as he tries to warn the train about people in the tunnel

It was then that he spotted two people enter the tunnel from about half a kilometre away.

"Obviously alarm bells started ringing. I made my way to the tunnel entrance, took a quick look around to see if I could see them," Mr Cunningham explained.

"Then I noticed the train going down the tracks at quite a speed, so I immediately started waving for the train to stop.

"I knew that these people were in the tunnel and I was freaking out. At the time I was expecting the worst and then out of the darkness the couple started stumbling towards me and that was a massive relief.

"There's no recesses in that tunnel so there is nowhere to really hide. From what I can see in the video they just dived to the ground and hoped for the best," he said.

The pair were not struck by the train and only received some scratches in the incident.

Translink, which operates buses and trains in Northern Ireland, released the July 2015 footage as part of a campaign to raise awareness over the risk of trespassing onto rail tracks.

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