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British teen hit by train while listening to music on headphones

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 31, 2012 in World
British transport police say schoolgirl Katie Littlewood, 15, was hit by a train at a pedestrian crossing at Johnson's Footpath in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire.
A pair of headphones and iPod were found near her body and police suspect she was listening to music on headphones and did not hear the approaching train.
According to Daily Mail, Kathy's mother Ruth White, a family doctor, died of cancer in 2009 at the age of 49. Katie and her sisters, Sarah, 17, and Stephanie, 12, moved from Morpeth in Northumberland to live with their uncle in Bishop's Stortford.
A friend of the family said: "The girls have been through a rough time and Katie’s death is such a dreadful thing to follow. Sarah and Stephanie have been knocked for six."
Johnson's Footpath crossing, an accident 'black spot'
Daily Mail reports the spot where Katie died is notorious for past fatal accidents. In 2002, an 81-year-old woman was killed at the spot after she chased her dog on to the line. A 24-year-old Andrea Evans, was also killed at the spot in 2006.
After the 2002 accident, a klaxon (an electric horn) and flashing lights were installed to warn pedestrians of approaching trains. There is also a sign at the crossing that warns "Cross only when green light shows" and "Cross quickly."
Similar accidents have been reported in other parts of the U.K. Teenagers Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train at Elsenham station, Essex in 2005.
The father of Olivia Bazlinton, Chris, speaking at the spot where Katie died said: "it is very hard to see the trains coming because of the bend on this section of track. Network rail will now be facing a lot of questions particular as this accident occurred just days before they are due in court. There should be a footbridge or a locking system for the gates. People should not be able to walk on the track when a train is approaching. This is an issue that is effecting the whole country and network rail have not done enough."
Mirror reports that a local safety campaigner Elaine Dawson, 69, said: “There have been several deaths over the years. And if young people are listening to Walkmans or have a phone to their ear they don’t pay attention to the signals, so we have to protect them. It’s a dangerous crossing and we have campaigned for a bridge to be built.”
Katie was studying for her final exams at Hertfordshire and Essex High School.
Rail News reports the incident occurred a few days before the Network Rail was due to plead guilty in court in connection with the deaths of Olivia Baszlinton and Charlotte Thompson at the Elsenham level crossing in Essex, December 2005. The company is appearing before Basildon magistrates to face charges that it breached the Health and Safety at Work Regulations for failing to "to carry out proper assessments of the risks to the safety of members of the public using the footpath crossing or to have in place adequate arrangements to underpin these assessments."
Studies describe the 'inattentional blindness' of people wearing headphones
Digital Journal reported that research studies show that the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured while wearing headphones has tripled in the last six years in the United States. Experts describe a state of "trance-like inattention" people experience when listening to music on headphones as "inattentional blindness," or "divided attention," that is, a distraction that lowers the resources the brain devotes to external stimuli.
Tributes have been paid to Katie after what the police described as a "tragic accident."
BBC reports that a tribute page "RIP Katie Littlewood," has been set on Facebook. She is described in the page as a "funny character and an inspiration to all of us." A post on the Facebook page by Debbie Bloor, read: "Thinking of you all. Will never forget Katie and her wonderful saxophone trolley." A tribute by Sue Jennings, read: "You are too young to die rip Katie my heart goes out to your family."
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