Family of 12-year-old boy electrocuted on railway cable pay tribute after inquest finds his death was an accident

The family of a 12-year-old boy who was electrocuted on a railway power line in West Yorkshire have paid tribute to their "fantastic lad".

Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 1:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 2:02 pm
Spencer Walker, picture courtesy of his family.

Spencer Walker's family were speaking today after a jury inquest found his death to be an accident.

The schoolboy, who lived in South Elmsall, in the Wakefield district, touched the live electricity wire with his foot after breaching a safety cage on a railway footbridge, members of the jury found.

The incident happened on October 3, 2016 and Spencer died at Leeds General Infirmary as a result of his injuries two days later.

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Tributes left at the bridge following Spencer's death.

Spencer's grandfather Graham Walker paid tribute on behalf of his family.

He said "He was a fantastic lad, bright, bubbly and intelligent. He was loved by all his many friends and his family, who will never forget him."

The three-day hearing at Wakefield Coroner's Court was told that Spencer climbed outside of the cage on the footbridge, which was located at the bottom of Beaumont Avenue in South Elmsall.

He made his way to the middle of the bridge, owned by Wakefield Council, until he was above an overhead cable supplying electricity to the East Coast mainline.

The jury was told the Minsthorpe Community College pupil touched the wire, despite other children telling him not to and fell onto the track below.

The court was told that Spencer was heard asking 'Should I touch it?' or 'What will happen if I touch it? shortly before the tragedy.

Members of the jury also heard that the position of spikes, designed to deter trespassers, were not in accordance with the latest standards at the time of the incident and have since been moved closer to the edge of the bridge cage.

But the inquest was told it would not be feasible to upgrade all existing structures each time new standards came into force.

During the hearing, Spencer's family raised concern about there being no warning notices to highlight the dangers of the cables. But the court heard there was no obligation on the council, or on Network Rail, to install signage at the bridge.

Signs were put in place as a "precautionary measure" after the incident, following a suggestion from railway regulator The Office of Rail and Road, in anticipation of people gathering for a vigil there.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Walker said: "If the signage had been in place and the spikes would have been where they are now and the anti-climb panels, then we are convinced that we wouldn't be in the situation that the family is in now."