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A man has described how he was “sucked” on to an electrified rail track, causing multiple cardiac arrests and the near-amputation of his leg.
After an evening out with friends, Chris Dos Santos from Totton in Hampshire crossed railway tracks and fell on to the “third rail” that powers trains.
“I received a 750-volt electric shock through my leg and into my body. Because the power is DC [direct current], it actually sucks you to the power source, so my leg was stuck to the rail and I couldn’t get off,” he said.
The current caused Dos Santos, a landscape gardener and father, to have a cardiac arrest. Three of his friends tried to help, but also got electric shocks. “They thought I was going to die. I remember the smell of burning skin. It was awful. I received severe burns to my legs, back and arm. I continued to have cardiac arrests and when I got to hospital they thought they were going to have to amputate my leg,” he said.
Dos Santos spent three months in hospital recovering from the accident, which has left him on crutches and with considerable scarring. “I didn’t want my girlfriend to come and see me. I also didn’t want my kids to see me the way I was.”
He has depended on a friend to help keep his landscaping business going during his recovery.
The 29-year-old decided to go public to try to prevent others making the same mistake. “If I could go back to that night, I would never have walked along the railway. People should understand how dangerous it is. If my story can make just one person more aware of the dangers, then it’s worth sharing,” Dos Santos said.
Becky Lumlock, Network Rail’s route managing director for Wessex, said Dos Santos’s story highlighted the dangers of the railway: “Taking risks at level crossings and running along platforms can have life-changing impacts, so we’re urging anyone who uses the railway to keep a clear head and stay safe.”
Trespassing on train tracks is the biggest cause of accidental death on UK railways, Network Rail warned. As well as the danger posed by touching high-voltage overhead lines, the electricity they carry can also “arc” or jump up to three metres.
Passengers are also reminded that trespassing occurs if they jump off the platform to pick up a phone or other object that has been dropped.
Network Rail is the company that owns and runs the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations that make up the UK railway.
This article first appeared on www.theguardian.com
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