25/03/2010 07:52 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Boy, 2, Killed By Train Playing 'Chase' With His Mum

In a tragedy almost too horrific to imagine, little Johnny Hall ran out onto a level crossing while on a family outing.

As his terrified mother cried out for him to get out of the way, he stopped and turned to her, thinking her screams were part of a game of chase.

Moments later he was hit by a speeding train in front of his horrified family. He was killed instantly.

In a statement read out to Peterborough Coroner's Court, Johnny's mother Elizabeth Connors, 28, described the day which will haunt her forever.

"Johnny just stopped. He turned and looked at me from the other side of the track and I could hear the train's horn."

"I was so close to the train and then the wind rushed passed and the train got him."

Eyewitness Joyce Forrest told how she saw the 'gorgeous' little boy, "with short spiky blond hair, a lovely round face and a cheeky expression."

Ms Forrest continued, "'He was playing a game and started to walk across like little ones do, and when he looked at her as she was calling him he thought she was playing a game."

"Then I heard the rush of the train and the mother screaming. She was curled up on the track and was screaming and her other little boy was running around crying."

Johnny had been visiting family with his mother, uncle and four-year-old brother at the time of the tragedy.

The Office of Rail Regulation investigated the incident after it was revealed that safety latches which would have prevented Johnny from getting onto the level crossing had been disabled just weeks before.

Investigator Peter Darling explained the justification for removing the latches.

"With bolted gates someone crossing the track has to slide it open, check it's safe to cross and then shut the latch behind them and do the same once they reach the other side."

"If they have to do this then they are spending more time on the track and if they misjudge the distance of a train they could panic or become stuck in front of a train."

He went on to add that there had only been one similar incident in the whole country in the past decade and that nothing could have been done to prevent the accident.

Coroner Gordan Ryall said, "This is a very difficult and tragic case and incidents like this are very rare. My condolences go to the mother. To be present at the death of your child is dreadful."

He concluded, "'However this is not a pedestrian crossing which I consider to be dangerous when it is used by those for who it is intended - adults and children old enough to be responsible."

Do you agree that this was an unavoidable tragedy, or can more be done to make level crossings safer?