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Wheelchair bound woman hit by train remains critical

Published: 5:39AM Tuesday February 26, 2013 Source: ONE News

A young woman remains in a critical condition in hospital following a horrific accident at an Auckland train crossing.

The woman was trying to cross tracks in her electric wheelchair at Morningside Station, when her wheels became stuck in the tracks.

She was clipped by a freight train and thrown from her wheelchair despite efforts by passersby to free her.

Two runners said they tried "madly" to save the woman from an approaching train.

An eyewitness told ONE News he saw the woman try to cross the tracks shortly after 9am.

He said the woman's wheelchair became stuck in the track but it was not long before two runners, a man and a woman, came to her aid.

"Then the runners were trying to pick the lady off the track but the train was approaching quite quickly," he told ONE News.

"They were panicking, really trying to madly get this lady out of there."

The witness said "they somehow managed to get her out of the chair" but that "she got hit and the runner, the lady got hit as well".

He said the wheelchair bound woman was unconscious and "severely injured", while the runners were in a state of shock.

Bystanders tried to reassure the trio and keep them warm until emergency services arrived.

"It's not a pretty sight to see someone like that," the man told ONE News.

The wheelchair bound woman was transferred to Auckland Hospital with serious injuries. One of the runners has been taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Another witness told ONE News that the female runner "got hurt as well when she got thrown around".

Uneven surface

A woman who has worked with Kiwirail to improve railway crossing for disabled people says she would never recommend the Morningside Train Station crossing.

"It's not a crossing I would recommend to anybody with mobility impairment, whether walking or wheeling, to cross," said Vivian Naylor.

Kiwirail say the path was upgraded in 2011 but there would always be some gaps and uneven patches.

"There will always be some gaps and there will always be some bumping because of keeping everything exactly right on grade is not always the easiest thing but we would expect it to work," said Kiwirail chief executive Jim Quinn.

ONE News visited the site with Naylor but she was ordered to stay off the crossing by a Kiwirail staff member.

An investigation into the incident is underway.