Officials say the 15-year-old boy whose leg was severed after being hit by a train in Washougal Wednesday was attempting to crawl under the train when he was hit.
Washougal Police Commander Allen Cook said the teen was crossing underneath a slow-moving westbound train on railroad tracks near George Schmid Memorial Park Wednesday evening, when his pant leg got caught on the rails.
The train’s wheels severed the boy’s leg, Cook said, but as severe as the teen’s injuries were, the incident could have been fatal if the boy had actually made it under the first train. That’s because a faster-moving eastbound train was approaching when the boy’s pant leg trapped him on the tracks.
Crew members on the eastbound train saw the boy crawling underneath the westbound train and radioed for both trains to stop, said Gus Melonas, spokesperson for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.
The crew rushed to the boy’s side to help him until emergency crews arrived.
“Thank God he didn’t go a little further, because the other train would have hit him,” Cook said.
The police commander added that multiple people from a nearby baseball field called 911 to report the accident after hearing another male teenager, who police say was with the victim, calling for help.
A surgeon, who happened to be at the ball field when the incident occurred, helped control the boy’s bleeding before paramedics arrived, Cook said.
Washougal police officer Casey Handley arrived on scene three minutes after dispatch at 6:52 p.m., Cook said, and was able to apply a tourniquet to the teen’s leg to help slow the bleeding.
Paramedics showed up soon after and transported the injured teen, whose name is not being released, to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.
The incident happened about one-half mile east of 32nd Street, across from the baseball fields near the Washougal School District office.
Melonas said the westbound train that ran over the boy’s leg was carrying grain and had slowed to about 3 mph to allow an eastbound freight train to pass.
The train line was shutdown for three hours and four trains experienced delays on Wednesday, Melonas said. An average of 40 trains travel the line daily.
The BNSF spokesman said that, this year alone, there have been five railroad trespass fatalities in Washington State. Last year, there were 23 fatalities — the second highest number within the past 25 years.
“We can’t encourage the public enough to recognize that railroad property is no-trespassing,” Melonas said. “Trains move on any track, at any time, in any direction.”