Woman who lost limbs in Tube accident demands meeting with mayor
Sarah de Lagarde claims Transport for London (TfL) has an “outdated” attitude to safety, and has launched a legal battle against the local government body, which, she says, has not accepted responsibility for what happened.
The 46-year-old mother slipped on a wet, uneven platform at High Barnet station in north London in September 2022, and fell down the gap between the train and the platform “into the darkness”.
She broke her nose and two front teeth in the fall, but nobody heard her desperate cries for help.
After being hit by two separate trains, Mrs de Lagarde was rushed to hospital and had to have an arm and a leg amputated.
She now uses two prosthetic limbs, including a bionic arm.
Mrs de Lagarde, who works in communications, claims the Mayor of London’s office has turned down her requests for a meeting with Sadiq Khan, despite an intervention from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Mr Khan is chairman of the TfL board.
Recalling her accident, she said outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Wednesday: “There were no staff on that platform, and no-one was watching CCTV. No-one had responded to my screams for help.
“Twenty-two tonnes of steel crushed my limbs, and, if that wasn’t bad enough, I remained on the tracks undetected until the second train came into the station, crushing me for a second time.
“A few weeks before I was hit by the two Tube trains, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my husband, which was a lifelong dream of mine.
“I felt on top of the world, and overnight all that changed. I am now severely disabled for life.”
After giving her statement to the media, Mrs de Lagarde walked up the steps of the court to formally lodge her legal case.
She said TfL’s conclusion that her accident was “unique” is wrong, and believes the organisation’s leadership needs an “urgent wake-up call”.
She added: “TfL initially concluded that I fell because I was drunk and wearing high heels, neither of which were true.
“Is TfL above the law?
“TfL simply say that this was a series of unfortunate and unique events that resulted in the injured person sustaining life-changing injuries.
“TfL deny any moral or legal responsibility for my accident.
“My local MP, Keir Starmer, asked Sadiq Khan to meet me to discuss the wider safety issues that my case raises and whether any lessons can be learned.
“Sadiq Khan’s office turned my requests down. They felt a meeting was inappropriate.
“There needs to be an independent and comprehensive review of TfL safety procedures so that meaningful lessons can be learned.”
Mrs de Lagarde said she has since been contacted by “hundreds of people” who have either been injured or have experienced a near-miss on the Underground network.
“Last week’s Victoria bus crash is the latest example of such an incident,” she added.
“Why is this still happening?”
Her solicitor, Thomas Jervis, partner at law firm Leigh Day, said: “I am at a loss to understand why there is such a closed approach to doing better in terms of safety.
“These are not just statistics, they are human beings. We are talking about people’s lives. Sarah and all users of London’s transport network deserve so much better.”
An investigation into Mrs de Lagarde’s accident was carried out by TfL and the Office of Rail and Road Accident Investigation Branch was notified, but concluded no further investigation was necessary.
Nick Dent, director of customer operations at London Underground, said: “TfL is responding to a legal claim which has been brought by solicitors on behalf of Sarah De Lagarde and I am not in a position to comment publicly further.
“However, our thoughts continue to be with Sarah and her family following the devastating incident at High Barnet station and we have offered her direct support.
“Safety is our top priority and we continue to take every possible measure to learn from any incident and put in place appropriate improvements.”
A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “The Mayor’s thoughts remain with Sarah and her loved ones. He has asked to be kept updated and is very keen to meet with Sarah once the claim is resolved.”