Saturday, January 24, 2009

Train Strikes Girl Playing On Tracks In Channelview, Texas

Below is an article from the Houston Chronicle on January 23, 2009 posted at 11:52pm.

As you read it and absorb what happened, a few things come to mind.

1. Where were the parents when this happened?

2. Why was a 10-year-old playing by the tracks?

3. Tragedy does not know race, creed or gender.

4. This is another case of a senseless tragedy that could have been prevented.

5. The reaction of the parents was, at least in my mind, strange.

6. This accident could have been prevented.

I feel for the child, her parents, and all involved, but this did not have to happen. It really makes me mad when things like this happen. Many things could have been done to prevent this, and none of them were the responsibility of the railroad.

I am going to keep up on this story. I would not be surprised to see a lawsuit in the future by some money-grubbing lawyer.

"Remember: Rail and recreation do not mix!" - Quote from "
Operation Lifesaver" which is a rail safety education website.

John Kinney had just pulled into his driveway Friday night when he spotted a group of children running pell-mell from the direction of the train tracks that cut east to west behind his neighborhood. They were screaming.

Seconds later, the 51-year-old Channelview resident saw a man and woman racing back toward the tracks. He took off after them.

A 10-year-old girl was lying on the ground, bright red blood staining her white pants, Kinney said. Her left leg had been completely severed from her body, near the knee. Her other leg was a mangled mess.

Dazed and pale, the girl kept apologizing for getting sand on her clothes, Kinney said. “She was worried she’d ruined them,” he said. “She didn’t realize what had happened.”

The girl and her friends had been playing on the tracks near the 330 block of Brookview about 5:45 p.m. when a Union Pacific freight train ran over her legs, Harris County sheriff’s Lt. John Legg said.

The two-man crew in the locomotive never saw her, said Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza-Williams. It wasn’t until sheriff’s deputies contacted the railroad about 10 minutes later that the 52-car train even came to a stop.

Kinney, who volunteers for the Community Emergency Response Team at the Anheuser-Busch brewery where he works, snapped into action.

He used an extension cord the girl’s father gave him as a tourniquet, tying it tightly around her legs to staunch the bleeding.

The girl’s parents prayed in Spanish as they waited for an ambulance. When the girl’s father began to weep, Kinney urged him to stay calm so she wouldn’t be frightened.

“I said, ‘Let’s be strong; we gotta be strong,’ ” Kinney said.

Even though the father didn’t speak much English, he seemed to understand. He and Kinney asked the girl questions about school to distract her.

It wasn’t until paramedics arrived and lifted the girl onto a stretcher that she started to cry.

‘That’s when I figure it hit her,” Kinney said.

Paramedics administered QuickClot, a hemostatic agent that rapidly stops severe bleeding, until a helicopter took the girl to Memorial Hermann-The Texas Medical Center. Paramedics packed her left leg in ice and sent it with her to the hospital. She was listed in critical condition late Friday.

A group of five children, ages 9 to 11, apparently had been playing a game on the tracks, said Legg, the sheriff’s spokesman. The children would stand on the tracks; wait for the trains to come by; and grab the side of the train, dragging their feet behind them.

A few of the children, including the girl, had successfully ridden a train earlier in the evening, but the second time, the girl’s leg slipped and was caught beneath the train, Legg said. The speed limit on the track is 10 mph.

The railroad’s emergency dispatch center received a call from the Sheriff’s Office about the accident at 5:57 p.m., said Espinoza-Williams, the railroad’s spokeswoman. Dispatch contacted a train yard in Baytown, and officials there called the train’s engineer and conductor, she said. The train stopped in the Highlands, where the crew was met by investigators from the Sheriff’s Office.

Union Pacific is also conducting its own investigation, Espinoza-Williams said.

“This is devastating for our crew,” she said. “They have families and children. This affects them deeply.”

In 2007, 39 children across the United States 15 and under were killed in accidents involving trains, according to Safe Kids USA. About 180 were injured.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone to stay off the railroad tracks and away from the trains,” Espinoza-Williams said.

When the chaos was finally over Friday, Kinney got down on his knees and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Then he went home and washed the blood from his hands.

“I knew I’d done all I could do,” he said. “I just hope this little girl makes it.”


bryan.rabel said...

I know John personally. He is well known as an action first ask questions later guy. He rescued a truck wreck victim in his neighborhood and stopped a robbery at his neighbors house. Just a COUPLE examples.The child is really lucky this happened near his home. Most other people don't respond or get involved or even know what to do. (or WORSE don't care) His actions in this instance are typical of him and his family.Great guy, great family, great job! Flathead Bryan

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