Metrorail train fire: Critically-injured mom wasn't supposed to take that train

2018-06-01 05:29
Leigh Jansen with relatives. (Supplied)

Leigh Jansen with relatives. (Supplied)

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A Cape Town mother, who was critically injured when the train she had been travelling in caught alight, was never meant to be on that line, her bereft mother said on Thursday.

Leigh Jansen was critically injured in what was believed to be an arson attack.

She is on a ventilator due to severe smoke inhalation.

According to her mother Ursula Schenker, Jansen is fighting for her life.

"Her eyes are still shut, and she can't talk. The smoke hasn't just affected her lungs, it has affected her entire body," she said.

Jansen was aboard a Cape Town-bound train on Wednesday, which became engulfed in flames shortly before 09:00.

READ: Commuter dies, 4 injured in suspected arson attack on Cape Town train

One passenger was burnt beyond recognition and three others were injured.

Schenker said that her daughter, a 42-year-old fuel scheduler from Southfield, was on her way to work on the Foreshore when disaster struck.

"No one can understand why she took that train. She normally takes the Plumstead (Southern) line but because she heard it was undergoing repairs, she took the [Cape Flats] line," Schenker said.

"She was actually the one who alerted the train driver about the fire. The driver heard her screams and stopped the train.

"There was another person in the carriage that burnt to death. I don't know what we would do if that had happened to her instead."

Schenker said Jansen's 10-year-old son Chile was devastated after he discovered that his mother had been hospitalised.

"We didn't tell him when we heard what had happened. After his dad picked him up from school, I showed him the picture I took of her in hospital and he just broke down," she said.

"His dad had to take her pillow from her bed and give it to him to get him to sleep."

Schenker, a trauma counsellor, said that she was struggling to process what had happened.

"As a trauma counsellor you only deal with reality and you have to assess the situation and take action. But this is different because this is my child," she said tearfully.

"I can't cry because everybody is looking to me to be strong."

Despite it being too early for doctors to determine whether Jansen will recover fully, Schenker remains optimistic.

"People are praying for her all over. I have family in the US and in Switzerland who are praying for her," she said.

"I'm just thinking of the other people who were injured in the accident. We have a car, so we could travel to the hospital to see her. These people have no support. I'm just hoping that this incident will highlight the plight of others."

Police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk said an inquest docket has been opened and that they were investigating whether arson was involved.

No arrests have been made.

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Read more on:    metrorail  |  cape town  |  fires  |  transport

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