By Aliki Kraterou and Mikey Jones
A disabled passenger’s pet dog died after his lead allegedly became trapped in a train’s doors – dragging him along the platform and into a tunnel.
Retired nurse Rose Barry boarded a train in her hometown of Borehamwood, Herts, with eight-year-old Shih Tzu Jonty at 2.05pm on Friday [September 7] to visit her daughter in London.
But the 75-year-old, who has back problems which mean she cannot walk long distances, claims the doors closed on Jonty’s lead while she was still on the platform after struggling to load her luggage and walker onto the St Pancras-bound service without assistance.
Devastated Rose claims she was left screaming for help as Jonty was dragged away along the platform and onto the tracks by the train, but said still no one came to her aid.
After a heartbreaking eight hours waiting anxiously for news of the search for her beloved pet, officials from rail company Thameslink told the pensioner Jonty’s dead body had been found in the tunnel.
Rose is now demanding more assistance on the platform and on trains for disabled passengers, to avoid similar tragedies in future.
She said: “What happened was terrible, and every night when I close my eyes Jonty’s image comes back to me.
“I have been travelling for 20 years and did everything correctly when I boarded the train on Friday, it’s just my disability means I sometimes need a little extra help.
“I had my folding walker and my bag, and was holding Jonty on a short leash.
“He was nervous because he wasn’t used to travelling on the train but had recently become more confident in doing so.
“As the train arrived, I waited to get onto the disabled carriage.
“But to my horror, I found the step was so high it was a struggle to get in on my own, and there was no guard on the platform.
“I managed to put my bag on board, and had turned around to pick up Jonty when the doors suddenly closed, trapping Jonty’s lead.
“My hand got caught, but as I managed to pull it free I realised Jonty was still attached to the doors and was being dragged along the platform by the lead.
“I immediately started screaming and hammering on the doors, hoping there was someone on board or on the platform who could release them.
“But there was no reaction from anyone in the train – neither staff, nor passengers. I don’t think anyone even saw the incident.
“I could see Jonty dangling from the carriage into the gap between the platform and the rails, but I realised even if the driver had looked out of the window he wouldn’t have seen him, or me, because of the curve in the tracks.
“I rushed back to the station buildings clearly distressed, shouting about how Jonty had been caught up in the train, but when I explained what had happened to a female member of staff she was slow to react.
“There was another man there in uniform, who didn’t react at all.
“I later found out the controllers can slow down or stop the train if alerted but clearly they couldn’t have seen me – despite the CCTV cameras.
“Perhaps if it had been a child who had got caught, things would have been different.”
Dog lover Rose got Jonty in June last year after volunteering to foster him due to his original owner having health issues.
The retiree, who travels on the train service at least once a week, is now calling for a change in policy to provide more assistance for disabled passengers.
After the tragedy, Network Rail and Thameslink returned Jonty’s body to Rose, who was able to bury her treasured companion in her garden.
She said: “It was a Friday afternoon at 2pm – the time everyone should have been travelling – but there were no station guards or anyone else at all at the station.
“There should be more assistance, especially for disabled people such as myself.
“Jonty was my first dog and he was exactly what I wanted in a dog, he was so easy to look after.
“We loved going for walks – everybody loved him, he was such a friendly and loving pet.
“I am so angry my dearest little dog, my companion, was caught up in this.
“But I am even angrier this has happened in spite of all the money which has been spent on Borehamwood station.“Jonty needn’t have died if there had been assistance and easier access for me, and I don’t want his death to be in vain.”