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Charity worker, 28, died after her head tree branch out of train

Charity worker, 28, died of fatal head injury from leaning out of moving train and hitting tree branch at 85mph after ignoring warning sticker reading ‘do not lean out of window’

  • Bethan Roper died after being struck by a tree branch on a moving train
  • She had put her head out of the window to be ill according to witnesses
  • Accident report said the window had a large yellow warning label nearby
  • She was travelling back to Wales after a Christmas shopping trip with friends 

Bethan Roper, 28, pictured, was killed after being struck by a tree branch when she put her head out of a train window to be ill last month

A woman who died after suffering serious head injuries while leaning out of a train window to be sick ignored a warning sticker, a report has found.

Bethan Roper, 28, died on a Great Western Railway train near Bath last month after being struck by a tree branch while the vehicle was going at 85mph.

A Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report subsequently found a yellow sign by the window said ‘Caution’ and ‘Do not lean out of window when train is moving’. 

The window was in a door and had been fitted so it could open and allow passengers to reach the handle on the other side.  

Miss Roper was on board the London Paddington to Exeter service while returning to Penarth, South Wales from a Christmas shopping trip with friends.

The incident happened at 10.04pm and she was pronounced dead at Bristol Temple Meads station shortly after 10.10pm.

Miss Roper worked for the Welsh Refugee Council charity and was chairman of Young Socialists Cardiff.

Her father, Adrian Roper, 63, released a statement after her death saying his daughter ‘enjoyed life to the full whilst working tirelessly for a better world’.

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The RAIB said its full investigation would examine the measures in place to ‘control the risks from persons leaning out of train windows, including the threat from vegetation’.

Speaking at the time, a passenger on board said: ‘Everyone in the carriage heard a loud bang and the train came to sudden halt.

‘I turned and saw her on the floor, I could see straight away that she had suffered dreadful injuries.

A Rail Accident Investigation Branch found charity worker Miss Roper, pictured, had ignored a warning sign on a door when she put her head out of the window

‘There were two medics on board and they gave her CPR but it was futile. The train was travelling at full speed when the accident happened.

‘She was with a group of girl friends who were in a state of shock and didn’t realise the severity of the situation to start with.’

A spokesman for BTP said a day after the incident: ‘We were called at around 10.10pm following a report a woman had received serious head injuries while travelling on a train between Bath and Keynsham.

‘Officers from British Transport Police attended along with colleagues from Avon and Somerset Police and South Western Ambulance Service, but despite their best efforts the woman died at the scene.

‘Our investigation remains at an early stage, but initial inquiries suggest the woman may have been leaning out of a window when she suffered a blow to the head.’

Miss Roper was pronounced dead minutes after the incident when the train arrived at Bristol Temple Meads station, pictured

In August 2016, railway fanatic Simon Brown, 24, was killed while leaning out of the window of a Gatwick Express train near Balham, south London. His head hit a signal gantry at 61mph.

In its report, the RAIB noted that a yellow warning sticker on the door was in a ‘cluttered environment’ among other information signs, and recommended that train companies should do more to stop passengers from putting body parts out of windows.

In November, public sector company Network Rail was asked by rail minister Andrew Jones to set out a plan for how it will do more to protect biodiversity during tree felling.

This followed criticism over the amount of trees being cut down in some areas.

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