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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Cumbrian man's train track suicide weeks before wife died of cancer

A father-of-two killed himself just weeks before his wife died of cancer.

Guy Harrison, 54, died instantly when he was struck by an early-morning train near to his home in Seascale, west Cumbria, on January 7.

An inquest into his death heard how his wife Elaine died of cancer less than three weeks later.

In a statement before she died, she said she knew he was worried about her illness but he hadn’t said anything [about it before he took his own life].

The driver of the train, Jan Greggain-Peck, said she had no time to react after seeing Mr Harrison standing, with his back to the train, in the middle of the tracks.

A jury returned a verdict that Mr Harrison – a safety officer at Sellafield – had taken his own life.

However, Mr Harrison’s family, including children Miranda and Alexander, could offer no explanation as to why he did it.

In her statement, Mrs Harrison said that her husband had suffered mood swings since he had a stroke the year before he died, and would make comments about being ‘fed up’ and that ‘life isn’t worth living’ before his mood would improve again.

She added that the couple had experienced behavioural problems with their son, Alexander.

There had been a heated argument between father and son to which the police had been called the day before Mr Harrison died.

On the day of the tragedy, Mrs Harrison woke at 7am to find her husband was not at their Wasdale Park home.

As the morning went on, she began to grow concerned about his welfare as he was due to have been working from home that day.

She received a visit from the police at 10am to break the tragic news.

Mrs Greggain-Peck, who was driving the Maryport to Barrow-in-Furness train, described how she stopped to let passengers off at Sellafield before pulling away from the station in the direction of Seascale around 7.30am.

The inquest heard that it was still dark and, in the limited forward visibility, Mrs Greggain-Peck had to rely on signals to direct the train as the vehicles themselves do not have headlights.

“I saw a person stood in front of me after I passed the signal at the end of the Sellafield site,” she said.

“It was almost instantaneous from seeing the person to slamming on my emergency brakes, to hitting the person. There only was a split-second to react.”

A post-mortem revealed that Mr Harrison died of multiple injuries.

An mp3 player and headphones were found at the scene, close to a foot crossing near Seascale Golf Club, but there was no evidence to suggest whether Mr Harrison was or was not listening to music at the time of the fatal collision.

The inquest heard that there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in Mr Harrison’s system. His GP also revealed that he had no history of depression.

Miranda Harrison added that her father was a keen church-goer and a much-loved grandfather to her own son.

She said that there had been ‘nothing to alert anyone to the possibility that he would do this.’ He had not left a note.

The inquest had been required to be heard in front of a jury because Mr Harrison died on a railway. Coroner David Roberts offered condolences to the Harrison family, and told the train driver there was nothing she could have done.

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