HAZELWOOD, MO (KPLR) - A driver may have survived a collision with a train, partly because of the quick thinking of a train operator. The 85-year-old driver reportedly survived what was first reported to Missouri State Highway Patrol as a fatal accident. Emergency responders then found the driver alive. They cut him from his car, took him to the hospital, and then learned the train engineer was able to slow down the train before impact.
The driver was heading south on I-270, took the exit to I-370 West and flew off the road, right into the path of a Norfolk Southern train. You could see belongings scattered yards away from where the car landed. Investigators say the train dragged it only 80 feet, because the engineer reacted after noticing the Chrysler Sebring convertible car heading for the tracks. The train was carrying dozens of freight cars. Highway Patrol Corporal Juston Wheetley describes how the train operator adjusted.
Corp. Wheetley said, “The engineer stated he saw the vehicle enter onto the tracks and he was able to slow the trains to, his words, approximately 12 miles per hour before impact with the vehicle. He was able to react and by slowing the train, made a big difference in the impact the driver experienced, which really helped to limit the injuries he sustained.”
Wheetley said emergency responders took the 85-year-old driver to the hospital in serious condition. He added that investigators are looking into whether he had a medical condition.