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Mother's tears over teenage tragedy

PUBLISHED: 16:29 01 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:48 03 March 2010

A STOWMARKET mother whose 16-year-old son was run over by a train has made an emotional apology to the driver for her son's behaviour.

Edwin Humberstone is thought to have died instantly when he was hit by a train at Lancaster's Crossing, just north of Stowmarket, at around 11pm on December 19.

A STOWMARKET mother whose 16-year-old son was run over by a train has made an emotional apology to the driver for her son's behaviour.

Edwin Humberstone is thought to have died instantly when he was hit by a train at Lancaster's Crossing, just north of Stowmarket, at around 11pm on December 19.

Mr Humberstone, known as "Eddie", was standing in the middle of the track when the Cambridge to Ipswich Anglia Railways service struck him.

Train driver Andrew Hankin, from Ipswich, broke down as he described the moment he saw a man standing in the train's path.

"I was coming into Stowmarket and the first thing I saw was a man in a blue coat," he said.

"From the time I saw him to the point of impact, it was in the region of two seconds."

The driver, who was travelling at around 70 miles per hour, slammed on the brakes but was unable to avoid the impact.

During the inquest into her son's death, Helen Johnson asked the driver if he had seen her son's face before the crash.

He replied: "No, there was no gesture. He just stood there and didn't move."

Fighting back the tears, the mother, from Stowmarket, then apologised to Mr Hankin for "Eddie's behaviour".

The inquest, held at Ipswich Crown Court, heard Mr Humberstone had struggled to come to terms with his parents separation and had "harmed" himself in the past and spoken of his desire to end his life.

A close friend of the schoolboy, Anne-Marie Constant, said he was "angry with the way his life was turning out".

She described him as a "smashing young lad" with a "great sense of humour" but added he had a "darker side".

Melvyn Humberstone told the inquest his son was thought to have suffered from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, which meant he found it difficult to accept his parent's split in 1997.

His mother moved to Stowmarket while Mr Humberstone, who had a brother and sister, stayed with his father in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.

The inquest was told Mr Humberstone had 222 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. This is nearly three times the legal drink drive limit.

The post mortem found he died of "multiple severe injuries" and coroner Peter Dean returned an open verdict.

PANEL

Last year more than 1500 children phoned Childline to talk to someone because they were upset over their parents' separation.

Kim Fleming, counselling manager for Childline said that when parents separate, children often feel very scared and confused.

She said: "Going through a divorce is a painful time for adults but even more painful for children.

"Some children go through a grieving process and can feel confused and very angry and frightened about what is going to happen to them.

"For some children it can be very positive though, especially if their parents have been arguing a lot."

It is believed that even tiny children and babies can feel the effects of a parents' separation, sometimes old habits like thumbsucking may return or they may lose newly acquired habits such as toilet training.

Babies may become restless and be fearful of new adults introduced to them.

But with older children, although they understand what divorce means they may have difficulty accepting the changes and may even blame themselves for the separation.

Ms Fleming said: "It is worth children remembering that a divorce is a legal ending of a marriage, the parents are not divorcing their children.

"They can continue to look after them and love them even if they are not living together.

"It is important for children to see that it is not their fault."

Parents can take action by reassuring children of their love and involvement in their lives – know their friends and what they do together and keep up with their progress at school and other activities.

Keep to family rituals and routine like Sunday dinner or weeknight homework time or shopping together.

Ms Fleming said: "At Childline we listen to what children say.

"Often children and young people don't know who they can really talk to about their feelings.

"They are having to let go of old habits and things are changing and they are feeling a lot of stress and anger."

n. Contact Childline confidentially on 0800 11 11. You don't have to pay for calls.

WEBLINKS

www.childline.org.uk

Additional information came from http://muextension.missouri.edu


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