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Split-second decisions can last a lifetime

Right Track ambassador and double amputee Jonathan Beninca is in Perth to share the rail safety message with thousands of students.

Jonathan was just 19 when he was run over by a train in Sydney.

“I missed the train home and was messing around on the tracks, throwing rocks at stationary trains. The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital missing my right leg, right arm and a few fingers off my left hand,” he said.

Jonathan is in Perth as part of the Public Transport Authority’s award-winning Right Track program, which visits young people in schools around Perth and educates them about the importance of rail safety.

“I tell the kids, you simply just don’t get another chance when it comes to trains - railway tracks are not to be messed with,” he said.

“Right Track’s aim is to prevent similar incidents from happening.

“When the students are faced with the harsh reality of what life is like without an arm and a leg, they sit up and take notice.

“I encourage them to make their own positive choices and to understand that injuries like mine impact your life every day - socially, financially, physically and emotionally.

 “I also talk to them about the impact that injuries and deaths have on train drivers and staff involved in the aftermath of an accident like this, which is something that most of them just don’t consider,” he said.

One such staff member is Transit Officer Piers, who responded to an incident at McIver train station in March.

“My message to young people would be to extremely careful when you are at the station or using pedestrian crossings,” he said.

“Obey the signage, listen for warning sounds and don’t wander on to areas marked as prohibited.

“As a transit officer I have a role as a first responder to the scene of any major incident, and sometimes it’s a very difficult thing to deal with.”

PTA spokesman David Hynes said last year the Right Track program reached more than 7000 students in WA.

“The program also runs and sponsors regular urban art, snake handling and other youth-oriented projects, aimed at promoting positive behaviours and creating better relationships between young people and Transit Officers,” Mr Hynes said.

“Jonathan’s story is upsetting, but the simple fact is that he may never have been around to tell it at all.

“Trains are massive vehicles that can travel up to 130kmph and take hundreds of metres to come to a complete stop in the event of an emergency.

“Our electrical overhead lines and other infrastructure, while vital, can be just as dangerous, and we’re urging parents, teachers and the community as a whole to be vigilant when it comes to educating children and young people about how to behave on and around the public transport system.

“When used properly, public transport is a fantastic service that makes our lives and our journeys easier – but we all have a responsibility to keep it safe.”

Visit http://www.righttrack.wa.gov.au/  or download fact sheet for more information.

Media contact:  Laura Tomlinson, 9326 2526 

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