One year on from the day which changed their lives, Hampshire teenager Tegan Stapleton and her mum, Sasha Mullings, are telling their story to warn young people of the potentially devastating and wide-reaching consequences of trespassing on the railway.
Tegan, 16-years-old at the time of the incident, was visiting Bournemouth the day after her secondary school prom when she ran across the tracks at Bournemouth station to get to her friend on the opposite platform and fell onto the live electrical conductor rail, which powers trains across much of the South of England.
The electricity passed through her left arm, crossed her heart and went through her right arm. She suffered a cardiac arrest, third-degree burns over 10% of her body and her heart stopped beating for seven minutes.
Had it not been for the quick and decisive action by members of South Western Railway station staff, who pulled Tegan away from the tracks and resuscitated her on the platform, her mum, Sasha Mullings, knows things could have been different.
“She’s definitely lucky to still be here,” she said. “That day will never leave my mind. She was in an induced coma and was in and out of surgery- we didn’t know what kind of lifelong injuries she would have. She had to learn how to walk again, how to eat, she couldn’t really talk and she had to learn how to do everything with her left hand.
“It doesn’t just impact you. One small thought could save the pain that you can put yourself and your family through.”
Tegan spent five months in hospital recovering and still has to undergo further surgery for her injuries.
“Being in intensive care was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I’d just always think that nobody was going to love me the way they did before and that I’d never be like the old me again.
“I want to get the message out there that the dangers on the railway aren't always obvious, like the conductor rail and trip hazards. I want people to learn from my mistake.”
Tegan is now planning to study psychology at college and hopes to turn her ordeal into a positive by using her experience to help people who have suffered severe burns.
Network Rail’s Wessex route, which takes in all or part of the counties of Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire, has a dedicated community safety team who have delivered rail safety sessions to more than 30,000 young people in the last year across the region.
The team has also worked closely as part of ongoing partnerships with local authorities, community groups and the community arms of Portsmouth FC, AFC Bournemouth, Southampton FC and Brentford FC, as well as England Boxing, to devise and deliver rail safety sessions for young people.
David Smith, director of safety for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said:
“I’d like to commend Tegan and Sasha for their bravery in working with us to share their story and raise awareness of the dangers present on the railway just one year on from this incident.
“This powerful video highlights the devastating and wide-reaching consequences that trespassing on the railway can have, and we hope it will help amplify the message that everyone loses the moment you step on the track.”
Network Rail, the British Transport Police and the wider rail industry are working together to raise awareness of the dangers of trespassing on the railway as part of the You vs Train campaign.