Network Rail signalman praised for averting Sandy crash

A signalman has been praised by a judge for averting a train crash when a van became stuck on a railway line.

Dharmesh Patel noticed on CCTV that a van had "zipped" under a level crossing gate but could not get through the next barrier as a train approached.

Mr Patel lifted the gate and the van drove off with seconds to spare, a ceremony at Luton Crown Court heard.

Judge Richard Foster said the driver would have undoubtedly been killed in the incident in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

Mr Patel had been managing controls for junctions and level crossings for a very large area from a Network Rail base in Peterborough on 3 October, 2011.

'Undoubtedly killed'

"Mr Patel was watching many many CCTV screens at the time and because of his diligence in his job, he saw the predicament," said Judge Foster.

"Without his actions the driver would have undoubtedly been killed and there is the chance that the train would have derailed causing many casualties.

"There is not enough praise given to people when they do their job to a very high standard."

Mr Patel collect a framed certificate and a cheque for an undisclosed amount.

Judge Foster presented the award on behalf of the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Jack Sapsworth.

He said Mr Patel was 'a very worthy recipient'.

Van driver Fatai Ogunbadejo, 45, of St Marys, Barking, east London, admitted dangerous driving and was sentenced at Luton Crown Court in July last year to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to do 150 hours work and banned from driving for a year.

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