Croydon tram driver says he is 'living a nightmare' over deadly crash

Croydon tram driver says he is 'living a nightmare' over deadly crash

July 25, 2021

‘I’ll never get over it’: Croydon tram driver says he is ‘living a nightmare’ over crash that killed seven – after inquest ruled they were not unlawfully killed when he became ‘disorientated’

  • Alfred Dorris made the comments to police in an interview 10 months after crash
  • The 47-year-old struggled to explain what had happened before tram derailed
  • He said he had repeatedly apologised to passengers at the scene after the crash
  • Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, and Philip Logan, 52, all died in the crash on November 9, 2016
  • Donald Collett, 62, and Mark Smith, 35, were also killed in the crash near the Sandilands stop in Croydon, South London
  • Comments come after inquest concluded their deaths resulted from an accident
  • Victims’ families say Mr Dorris has not apologised and are calling for new inquest

The driver of a tram that derailed in Croydon killing seven people and injuring 51 others has said he is living a ‘nightmare’ in ‘hell’ over the incident.

Alfred Dorris, 47, told police he will ‘never get over’ the events of November 9, 2016, in transcripts of a lengthy interview reported by The Telegraph. 

During the interview, which took place 10 months after the crash with his lawyers present, Mr Dorris claimed to have repeatedly apologised to passengers at the crash site.

The tram driver has never spoken publicly about the incident.

Seven passengers died and a further 51 were injured when the tram derailed in South London. Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, and Philip Logan, 52, all from New Addington, and Donald Collett, 62, and Mark Smith, 35, both from Croydon, were killed in the crash. 

The report comes just days after a jury reached the unanimous conclusion that the deaths in 2016 were a result of an accident, saying that Mr Dorris had become ‘disorientated’.  

Several members of the victims’ families walked out of the room at Croydon Town Hall in tears after the decision was announced on Thursday.

The driver of a tram that derailed in Croydon killing seven people and injuring 51 others has said he is living a ‘nightmare’ in ‘hell’ over the incident. Pictured: The scene of the derailment in 2016 

The tram (pictured) derailed near the Sandilands stop in Croydon, South London, on November 9, 2016. Drive Alfred Dorris, 47, told police he will ‘never get over’ the events of November 9, 2016, in transcripts of a lengthy interview

On Thursday, a jury reached the unanimous conclusion that the deaths in 2016 were a result of an accident, saying that Mr Dorris had become ‘disorientated’. Pictured: The scene of the derailment in 2016

They say that Mr Dorris never apologised for the incident and say the senior coroner in the inquest refused to call a number of people who they wanted to give evidence about alleged safety failings.

Prior to the crash, Mr Dorris had a perfect record and was very familiar with the stretch of track where the accident occurred, having driven it 693 times without incident.

He struggled to explain to police why he failed to brake in time before reaching the Sandilands bend, saying he became ‘disorientated’ and ‘confused’ while halfway through the tunnel, believing he was travelling in the opposite direction.

‘When I realised where I was it was too late for me to do anything.’

Mr Dorris insisted he did not fall asleep while driving but said he ‘blacked out’ as the carriage rolled off the track.

‘I was upset, you know traumatised. I weren’t sure what had actually happened… I was upset… angry,’ he said in the interview, according to The Telegraph. 

He went on to tell police that he ‘got really emotional’ when rescuers told him people were under the tram and said he repeatedly apologised to passengers as they were taken from the wreckage.

‘I was just saying to them, “I’m so sorry.”… then it got too emotional for me and I had to get out and … collapsed.’

‘All I think about, [is] how it’s affected everyone else – all the families. You know I’ll never get over it. It’s something that I’m going to have to carry forever.’ 



(From left) Phil Seary, 57, Dane Chinnery, 19, and Donald Collett, 62, of Croydon, were all killed in the crash in 2016




(From left) Dorota Rynkiewic, 35, was also killed, as were Mark Smith, 35, Philip Logan, 52, and Robert Huxley, 63

Mr Dorris told police he was not thinking of himself but rather the families of the victims who now have to spend birthdays and Christmases without their loved ones, saying: ‘It’s going to be hell for them.’  

‘I know their life has changed forever now. I think the people will be blaming me for what happened to them and I’ll never ever be able to get over it. That’s how I feel all the time and every day.

‘People may think it’s been easy, but it’s not been easy for me. By thinking, oh you know, oh look at him, he can carry on living a normal life. But it’s not like that. I’m living the nightmare every day. It’s hell. And you know, that’s why I’m sorry, because it’s horrible.’

Jean Smith, the mother of Mark Smith, told The Telegraph that Mr Dorris’s comments were ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’.

‘It was not an apology to the families of the seven who died or anyone else. This was an apology to himself for being in this situation.’

Following the jury’s decision on Thursday, it emerged that the South London senior coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe refused to call a number of people who the victims’ families wanted to give evidence about alleged safety failings. 

Those potential witnesses include senior managers of operator Tram Operations Ltd (TOL) – a subsidiary of FirstGroup – and Transport for London (TfL), plus other experts and tram drivers.

The victims’ families will now call on the Attorney General Michael Ellis QC to apply to the High Court to grant a new inquest. They will also seek to judicially review Ms Ormond-Walshe’s decision on which witnesses to call. 

A lawyer representing the families of those killed claimed the inquest was ‘a missed opportunity’ as a result of the decision not to hear more evidence, while a relative of one victim said: ‘Justice has been suffocated.’  

Danielle Wynne, granddaughter of victim Philip Logan, said on Thursday: ‘I’m so upset and angry. It’s not an accident. Someone is to blame. We want lessons to be learned so that no other family has to go through this.’ 

Source: Read Full Article