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Peter rang from the train...his last words were 'I love you'.

One victim of the Southall rail disaster called his mother to say "I love you" just an hour before being killed in the crash.

Solicitor Peter Kavanagh, 29, spoke to mum Maureen on his mobile phone as he returned on the train from a business meeting in Cardiff.

Maureen, 50, said at the family home in Laindon, Essex: "We're an affectionate family and always say, 'Love you, speak to you later' - and that's the last thing Peter said.

"He called to remind me to do something for him. I've been thinking about that conversation ever since. I feel as if someone has cut my heart out - he was my only child."

Maureen also told how her son had been due to catch a later train - but was in a hurry to get back to London.

He actually turned down a friend's offer of a lift to catch the later train and took a taxi to the station for the ill-fated 10.32.

Maureen said: "The sickening thing is that Peter should really have been on a later train.

"But he told me he had lots of work to do and was in a rush to get back."

Peter, who lived at home with Maureen and dad Peter, 50, worked as an environmental litigation lawyer in Fleet Street. He graduated from law school three years ago with first-class honours.

"I knew he was on that train," said Maureen. "We called his mobile again and again but there was no answer. We were 99.9 per cent certain then that he had died."

A second victim was college principal Clive Brain, 57, from Swindon, Wilts. His wife Gill, 53, described him as "a lovely, caring man who loved his family and job".

The couple have two daughters - Rebecca, 23, and Sally, 21 - and a 17- year-old son, Alexander.

Gill said: "I had prepared myself for news that he was badly injured - I couldn't take it in that he could be one of the dead."

Mrs Brain said her husband had only recently started travelling first- class to use his laptop computer - and the first-class carriages took the brunt of the damage.

Six passengers died in the disaster and 163 were injured, 13 seriously.

The other dead were named as former Army officer David Eustace, 53, from Deal, Kent; Gerard Traynor, 38, a leisure and tourism officer and father of four from Boldon, South Tyneside; company director Anthony Petch, 52, from Thornbury, Bristol, and Swedish radio journalist Marcus Olander, 60, who had been in Wales to cover the devolution vote.

Mr Petch, who had two sons, worked for agricultural products giant Dalgety in Bristol.

Mr Eustace, married with three children, had been a lieutenant colonel in the Territorial Army at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire.

His family had only recently moved to Deal from nearby Sandwich. A note on their front door said: "We are distraught. We would appreciate your cooperation in respecting our privacy."

The crash happened after a Great Western Inter-City express from Swansea to Paddington hurtled into a freight train crossing its path.

The unnamed driver of the passenger train has been released on bail by police investigating a possible manslaughter charge.

He is due to return to Southall police station on October 31.

Crash investigators are not expected to reach a verdict on the cause of the disaster until the end of this week.

Train crash hero Tony Mair yesterday told how he pulled injured passengers from the wreckage.

Tony, 36, a newsagent's manager, was working on his wife's car near the scene of the crash and braved the carnage to comfort passengers and lead them to safety.

He said: "The first thing I saw was a body with most of the head cut off. There was blood everywhere.

"Another victim was lying across an electric cable. I saw one or two others but couldn't tell if they were men or women.

"I could hear screaming and crying from inside, 'Help us, get us out'. As we helped people the driver was leaning against his cab.

"He was very shocked but didn't seem to have a scratch on him. We tried to cover up the dead but all we could find were bits of old foam.

"I'm just sorry we could not do anything more dignified for them."

Railtrack director Andy Hancock said the track at the crash scene was one of the most modern and well- maintained sections on the network.

He said new signalling had been installed five years ago and now included automatic train protection equipment which had been installed as part of a pilot study.

The ATP is designed to make it impossible for a train to go through a red signal, even if it has to override the driver.

But, because it had failed recent tests, Railtrack said last night that the ATP system was not operational on the Inter-City express at the time of the crash.

British Transport Police were conducting a fingertip search of the scene before allowing Railtrack to clear the area.

Rail chiefs ordered a mobile crane capable of lifting 1,000 tons to help clear away the twisted tangle of metal of the locomotive and carriages.
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Author:Jack, David; Newton, Victoria
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 1997
Words:864
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