SCHOOLGIRL Zoe Miller was killed by a train after falling from a bridge while jogging barefoot just before midnight, an inquest heard today (Tuesday).
She left her home in George Street, Berkhamsted, through a back garden gate after being told by her parents Jane and Rob that it was time for bed.
The family had gone to bed at 10pm – but later heard noise from downstairs, where Zoe’s bedroom was. The inquest heard that they gave her £5 to push her into going to bed.
It was the night before her first day back at Abbot’s Hill School in Hemel Hempstead and she wanted to work off some energy to help her sleep.
This was not unusual for the 13-year-old, who grew up in Africa and would often go out running barefoot, Herts Coroner’s Court was told.
Sometimes she would leave a note for her parents, saying: “Do not worry – I have gone out for a few minutes,” deputy coroner Graham Danbury said.
He said: “I am entirely satisfied this was an accident – nothing more, nothing less. She just happened to be in the wrong place as the train went by.”
Zoe was found dead on the morning of Monday, April 23.
Her parents and younger sister Sam are looking for a new home further away from the railway where she died.
In a statement, they said: “Zoe was a wonderful, smart, beautiful daughter and we miss her desperately.
“We will never know exactly what happened, but we do know that we loved her and always will.
“Zoe was extremely bright, always with a book around her, and was an incredible writer and artist.
“We are privileged to have memories of nearly 14 wonderful years travelling the world with Zoe, and her adventurous free spirit will remain in our hearts for ever.”
Entries in her diary suggest she was a “happy” girl, the court heard.
British Transport Police detective inspector Andrew Rose said: “It was very much the diary of a teenage girl. The latter entries were very happy and upbeat.”
In the night she died, Zoe stayed at home to do homework while her family went out, the court heard.
She was hit by a 60mph train bound for Euston at about 11.45pm – but her body was not discovered until just after 6am the next day.
It had experienced a power cut after going under the single track Ivy House Lane road bridge near Zoe’s house, the inquest heard.
Mr Rose said the train came to a stop, but carried on going after the fault corrected itself.
Bare footprints were later found on a fence blocking off the parapet of the bridge.
Verdict: accidental death.