Trooper saves Utah man from oncoming train with seconds to spare

CENTERVILLE, Utah (KTVX/CNN) - A trooper in Utah says he’s still trying to process what happened after he pulled a man from his car, two seconds before a train plowed into it.

The car became stuck on the tracks after an unknown medical event caused its driver to drift off the interstate then crash through a road sign support and a fence. (Source: Utah Highway Patrol/Twitter)

Trooper Ruben Correa with the Utah Highway Patrol responded to a call about a car on the railroad tracks Wednesday morning in Centerville, Utah.

Dashcam video shows Correa scramble up the embankment to find the driver unconscious behind the wheel and a fast-moving FrontRunner train headed toward them.

"I heard the horn from a train. I looked to my left and was able to observe that train was coming pretty fast, between 50 and 80 miles per hour. So, at that point, I wasn’t really thinking. I was just doing my job. The main concern was getting him out,” Correa said.

Correa dragged the man to safety just two seconds before the train slammed into the car and pushed it down the tracks. Both men are extremely fortunate to be alive.

"I got worried after I saw the train hit the vehicle, and the vehicle flew about 30 feet in front of us. That's when I realized, 'Oh, wow, that was a lot closer than what I would have liked,’” Correa said.

Utah Transit Authority says Riley Nelson, the engineer operating the train, is also a hero. He was about 25 seconds away from impact when he spotted the car on the tracks.

“He responded quickly and decisively, activating the emergency braking system when the train was 21 seconds from impact. In those 21 seconds, the train slowed from 79 mph to approximately 30 mph,” said UTA spokesperson Carl Arky in a statement.

Arky says Nelson’s actions gave Correa those “few precious extra seconds” he needed to pull the driver to safety.

“Had the train not slowed down or had Riley waited another 5 seconds to activate emergency braking, the outcome most likely would have been tragic,” Arky said.

Correa says the car became stuck on the tracks after an unknown medical event caused the driver to drift off the interstate then crash through a road sign support and a fence.

The driver is now back with his family. Correa says the two met and the man expressed gratitude that they are both still alive.

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