Train crash driver had HIV test

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An inquest into a fatal collision heard how a closeted gay man killed when his car hit a passenger train was “tormented” had taken an HIV test the previous day.

Bryan Drysdale, a 48 year old year chef, was inside a Mazda which hit the Paddington to Plymouth train at 100mph near Ufton Nervet, Berkshire, in November 2004.

It resulted in seven deaths and more than 120 injuries, 18 seriously, when the impact turned the carriages of the train and made it slide down an embankment.

Slough Coroners Court heard evidence that Mr Drysdale had kept his sexuality hidden since the age of 13, keeping the secret from his brother, family and close friends.

Friends and family had earlier testified that none of them thought that Drysdale was in a suicidal mood and some placed suspicion on his car as he had a history of purchasing vehicles in poor condition.

However, a Thames Valley Police switchboard operator told the court that she received a call four days before the disaster from a man calling himself Brian Drysdale who was concerned he might be persecuted about his HIV status.

Central Somerset Gazette reports that Lucy McDonagh said he was concerned about being persecuted and about his HIV status.

The doctor who performed his test the day before the crash testified: “I found him anxious and difficult to talk to.”

NHS Direct contact assistant Joanne Senior received a call from a Brian Drysdale in which he said he thought he might be HIV positive.

Asked whether he was suicidal, he replied: “Ermm… yes.”

His test, which arrived five days after the accident, was negative.

Slough Coroner’s Court heard yesterday from the only witness to the crash, PC Mark Brazier. He saw the car parked on the railway crossing.

“I got out of my car to go to the driver and say, ‘What the hell are you doing?'” he said, according to The Sun.

“I took a few steps and heard the alarm sound. The barrier came down. The moment I got out of my car, I knew it – I knew what was happening.”

Despite trying to raise the alarm using an emergency phone, when he heard the train coming he “realised there was nothing I could do.”

The collision caused all eight carriages of the train to derail, and the train driver, as well as five passengers including two children, were all killed in the crash.

The inquest continues.