Huffpost UK uk

Scarlett Straw, Miraculous Survival Of Girl Held In Father Richard's Arms As He Leapt In Front Of Train

Posted: Updated:

A little girl who was hit by a train as her father leapt to his death while clutching her in his arms has made a miraculous recovery.

Scarlett Straw was just three when her father hurled himself - and her - in front of a speeding train.

An inquest heard he had instructed her to "say goodbye to mummy and tell her you love her" just hours earlier.

kid

On the road to recovery: Scarlett Straw and her mother Samantha Roberts

The coroner heard Richard Straw, 28, had scrawled abusive graffiti over the walls of his former family home, aimed at Scarlett's mother, Samantha Roberts.

One chilling sentence read "good bye Sammy, good bye mummy."

A note found in Straw's Renault Megane, which was found parked near the train tracks on the day he died in July last year, stated Scarlett was "coming with me, far, far away from you."

While Straw died from multiple injuries, Scarlett escaped with just broken bones.

Doncaster Coroners Court in South Yorkshire heard Straw and his partner of five years had split up not long before he took his daughter with him to stand in the path of the 70mph London Kings Cross to Leeds train.

Roberts described Straw as a loving father one day, who could be "horrible and nasty" the next.

She said they broke up in April after an argument about his gambling.

"I think he was pampered a lot by his parents, if his uniform wasn't ready or his packed lunch, he would go mad, " she said.

She added Scarlett "didn't deserve that". The court also heard that Roberts had been seeing a friend of warehouse operator Straw since they split.

Roberts told the court that she thinks he found out "properly" about this on the day before he killed himself.

On Monday he turned up unannounced in the morning and asked if he could take Scarlett to the park and McDonalds as he had taken the day off work.

"He said he was thinking about what happened yesterday and had realised he had lost us and had taken the day off work and didn't want to waste it," said Roberts.

She agreed as long as he brought their daughter back by midday as she need to get a school uniform. He seemed "happy" and calmer than the previous day, she added.

"He said to Scarlett to say goodbye to mummy and tell her you love her," said Roberts.

It was when she returned to her home in Doncaster later that day that she realised Straw had been back because he had returned the family dog.

When she entered her house she noticed hateful words in his handwriting written on the walls.

PC Paul Setterfield, who attended the property after the discovery of Straw's body, said the writing was "of an abusive nature aimed at Samantha".

DC Ian Grice confirmed: "There was a lot of hatred towards Samantha, a lot of look what you've done."

Minutes after she had noticed the graffiti, the police phoned Roberts to tell her what had happened.

It is unclear exactly what Straw's movements were after he collected Scarlett, but at around 12.30pm train driver David Dobson saw a white male run from the undergrowth at the side of the tracks as he neared a crossing.

Dobson said the man was moving as if "he was running from some starting blocks" and as he saw the train he seemed to speed up.

In his statement Dobson, who has 34 years experience of driving trains, said he could see he was carrying a young girl, adding "she was being carried on his left hip, had her arms around his neck and her head on his shoulder."

Moments later he heard a bang on the right side of the train and he knew he had hit him.

Another driver went down the tracks to check and found Straw dead but Scarlett miraculously alive. Badly injured she lay a short distance away from her father.

Her cheekbone was fractured, one arm was broken and one leg was smashed by the blow, which also left her with a large wound on the back of her head.

But Scarlett, now four, has made a miraculous recovery, following multiple operations and 45 days in hospital.

DC Grice told the court a note that described the same hatred towards his ex-partner voiced in the graffiti was found in Straw's car.

He said that note stated that Straw couldn't "wait for the train to come" and that by 11.40am he had watched two go by already.

Passing a verdict of suicide, coroner Nicola Mundy said she was satisfied this was a deliberate act.

She said the graffiti on the walls was full "of hatred and vitriol" in regards to Straw's ex-partner and fear that he may lose contact with his daughter.

The court had heard that Shaw was on bail for a suspected arson attack on a property and was afraid that if he went to jail he would lose contact with his family.

Mundy referred to the graffiti and note, adding they "indicated that he wanted to take his daughter with him, wherever that may be".

If you've been affected by the issues in this article, please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.