A ‘war hero’ who was fatally run over by two London Underground trains after falling into the gap has been named and pictured as his family demanded that Transport for London (TfL) ‘take responsibility’ first day of a much-delayed inquest into his death.
Father-of-10, Gama Mohamed Warsame, 59, from Tower Hamlets, ‘tripped’ and fell between the platform and the train at Waterloo station on the northbound Bakerloo line platform at 10.06am May 26, 2020.
Although he tried to escape and waved his hands for 20 seconds, he was run over and dragged 16 meters by the first train, then run over again by a second train which applied emergency brakes after that a passenger on the platform alerted the driver.
A post-mortem examination revealed the 59-year-old had died of ‘catastrophic trauma’ to the brain, heart and lungs.
At South Coroner’s Court in Inner London yesterday, Mr Warsame’s daughter Samara Mohamed had her touching statement read before answering questions.
She praised her ‘kind, loving and gentle’ father who was ‘a hero to his country’ – but she slammed TfL, saying ‘unfortunately in the last moments of his life he needed help and no one was there to help him.”
Father of 10, Gama Mohamed Warsame, 59, from Tower Hamlets, ‘tripped’ and fell between the platform and the train at Waterloo station on the northbound Bakerloo line platform at 10.06am on May 26, 2020
The 59-year-old was fatally crushed by two London Underground trains after falling into the gap between the carriage and the platform
The court heard how Mr Warsame had fought in the Somali Civil War, during which he was tortured and injured by shrapnel to his legs. He fled the country and was granted asylum in the UK where he had lived for 30 years at the time of his death.
Ms Mohamed added: ‘We believe our father’s death happened for a reason other than just an accident and that changes need to happen to help someone else.
“After all, he was a remarkable person and sometimes something remarkable has to happen to change the world.
“As a family, we want TfL and London Underground to take responsibility for raising awareness of what’s happening on their platforms.”
An investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has already revealed that operating monitors – which allowed drivers to see problems on the platform – were ‘not suitable for identifying a fallen person in the gap’ after investigators conducted a mock test with a dummy.
RAIB lead investigator Richard Brown admitted: ‘What the driver may have seen at the time is not recorded so we don’t really know.
The court was able to see still images from the simulation that showed how difficult it was to see a passenger on the platform or in space.
Mr Brown explained that the cameras did not meet the “height requirements for a person appearing on a monitor” of 1997 or 2000. Although he noted that the drivers were in good health, well rested and had been tested for their sight.
The court heard how the curvature of the platform at Waterloo led to the gap Mr Warsame fell into, which at its smallest was 264mm wide. The depth of the fall was no more than 580mm – at the thighs according to Mr Brown, but he suggested that Mr Warsame had fallen into a “prone position” and may have been unable to move his legs and to get up.
Chief Coroner Andrew Harrison still seemed bewildered, saying: ‘Does it seem surprising that anyone could actually fit into this space?’
Mr Brown also revealed that the platform was noisy. “You had to be close enough to people to have a normal conversation,” he continued. “You had to shout… If someone was more than a car or two away, they would have trouble hearing you.”
CCTV on the rig did not record sound, so it is unclear whether Mr Warsame called for help.
The court heard how his war efforts left him with undiagnosed PTSD which led him to self-medicate with alcohol, according to his family.
Ms Mohamed told the court he did not have a ‘drinking problem’ but it was ‘a social problem’, ‘it was for the PTSD he had’.
A report from Mr Warsame’s GP revealed he suffered from alcohol addiction until 2009, after which he came to the doctor with alcohol problems and was referred to the charity RESET.
In a report, pathologist Dr Simon Poole said: “Very high levels of alcohol in his blood and urine may have affected his coordination and balance and predisposed him to fall.”
But speaking to the court, toxicologist Dr Susan Paterson went further, saying the alcohol levels ‘probably would have’ made him ‘prone to falling’.
Mr Warsame’s blood alcohol level was 300mg per litre, which “is normally associated with coma and possibly death”.
Dr Paterson explained that he may have developed a tolerance and answered questions from the family lawyer about how this might have influenced his downfall. She added: “This is an extremely high level that would have affected anyone.”
In a tribute to her late father, his daughter Mrs Mohamed said: ‘He was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and a hero to his country.
“As a family, we will never be able to come and explain what our father meant to his family and loved ones. Nothing we will ever say can do justice to what he meant to us or others.
‘He was a remarkable person. He was the most selfless, generous, intelligent, wonderful person you’ve ever known. He was easy to love and easy to connect with.
‘My father was a selfless person, and he also put himself before others. He was honourable, he was kind, he was so loving and gentle. He worked hard in everything he did. He told us to always be honest. He was a man of his word and always put others before himself.
“He was a hero for us and his family, he was also a hero for his nation. He was a brave man. He was nicknamed “Lion” – imagine being nicknamed a lion at the age of 10.
“He showed mercy and love to all living beings. He also saw good in people. He never used to hold grudges. He was the definition of a strong person and a survivor.