In the news today is a story so wild that I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. A pilot is in stable condition after crashing their plane onto railroad tracks and being rescued by police just a few seconds before a commuter train sliced the wreckage in half.
At around 2:10 p.m. local time yesterday, CBS News reports, 1967 Cessna 172 registration N8056L crash-landed onto railroad tracks. The tracks are at the intersection of Osborne Street and San Fernando Road just beyond the threshold of Whiteman Airport’s runway 30 in Pacoima, California. The incident took place about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
According to initial reports, the aircraft had taken off from the same airport minutes before and lost engine power.
The crash happened only blocks from LAPD’s Foothills Division station, and emergency services were on the scene immediately. But police had little time to rescue the pilot because at 2:15, five minutes after the crash, a Metrolink commuter train came barreling through the grade crossing. A bodycam caught the final moments of the rescue. Words can’t really capture the urgency of the rescue operation:
Locals captured other angles of the quick rescue and destruction of the aircraft.
The pilot was rushed to a local hospital and is reportedly in stable condition after being treated for cuts and bruises. This is one of those nightmare scenarios that you think only happens in the movies. But it’s real, and the police did a fantastic job getting the pilot to safety.
Metrolink halted service in the area after the incident. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
In situations like this, it’s critical to call the railroad to inform them of the situation. Most of the time, you should be able to find a sign near the railroad crossing with a number to call. An officer interviewed by CBS says they called the railroad to halt service. It’s unclear if Metrolink got the warning, and if it did, how much time the railroad and its train had to react.
No matter what the investigation finds out, any day you and your rescuers can walk away from a plane and train crash is a good day.