SUICIDE BY TRAIN? Driver hit by 100mph express after parking on level crossing.
A MAN died yesterday in an apparent suicide after parking his car on a level crossing.
He was decapitated when a train ploughed into his Astra at 100mph, shoving it a mile up the track.
The train driver battled to control the Colchester to Norwich service.
None of the two man crew and 44 passengers on the eight carriage train was hurt. But terrified passengers feared it would burst into flames after the crash - the second fatal accident at the crossing in 15 months.
Trainee electrician Matt Hobson, 16, said: "We heard a big bang and there were stones flying everywhere. We thought we had come off the track. People were shocked and the windows steamed up and there was a strong smell of diesel. We were told to go to the back of the train."
Matt, off to sit an exam with three friends, said: "They put a ladder up to one of the doors and people managed to get out. Then we were led up some steps at the side of the railway tracks and got into coaches."
Pal Sam Riches, 17, said: "The rail staff were good and there was not much panic, although one woman seemed pretty badly shaken."
A police source said: "The early evidence points to a suicide. It would appear the car was not trying to beat the lights but had stopped and parked there. Because of the speed of the train the driver would have had almost no chance." The dead man has not been named.
The crash happened at 7.25am at an automatic half barrier level crossing at Swainsthorpe, Norfolk. Services from Norwich to London were badly disrupted.
Darrell Sheens, 45, was killed there in November 2005 when he drove his car on to the crossing while the lights were on and barrier already down.
The latest crash came the day after the Office of Rail Regulation said Britain's 7,700 level crossing posed the biggest danger to passengers.
CLOSED OFF: Crossing at Swainsthorpe where crash happened; SMASH: Experts inspect wrecked Astra yesterday