Saturday, January 22, 2005

Train crew comes to aid of man injured on tracks
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER STAFF

EDMONDS -- The crew of a freight train found a man whose legs had been cut off at the knees by another train yesterday morning and kept him alive for 45 minutes until emergency workers could rush him to Harborview Medical Center.

"They were outstanding. They gave him a chance to survive," said Edmonds Fire Chief Tom Tomberg.

The crew of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe train, which was heading from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., saw a man beside the tracks just before 9 a.m. about a mile south of the Edmonds train station, said Gus Melonas, a spokesman for the railroad.

The man was on his side, leaning on one arm and waving frantically at the train, Melonas said. The train stopped and discovered that the man, a 29-year-old from Pasco, had been injured minutes earlier after jumping off a freight train headed for Seattle.

Using their shirts and a flexible cable, the crew members -- engineer Mike Reitz, conductor Xavier Valenzuela and brakeman Mike Ayers -- fashioned two tourniquets that stopped the man's bleeding. They called a railroad dispatch center in Fort Worth, Texas, and the center alerted local emergency crews.

Emergency workers from the Edmonds Fire Department had to walk to the scene of the accident, which wasn't otherwise accessible. The train crew uncoupled the lead locomotive and took the emergency workers and injured man to a waiting ambulance.

The man was undergoing surgery at Harborview yesterday. The hospital hadn't identified him.

"The guy lost a ton of blood," Tomberg said. "If he makes it, the Big Guy was watching out for him."

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