For most people, helping the homeless means making a financial donation or volunteering at a food bank for those less fortunate than themselves. A San Francisco–area man recently seized an opportunity to literally lend a helping hand. When the man approached a rail crossing in his car on a Monday-midmorning jaunt in his car to Target, he noticed that a man with a shopping cart stood between a set of railroad tracks on which a southbound Union Pacific train was quickly approaching. When the crossing arms came down, the man with the cart apparently stood in his place shocked, before the train knocked him down and rolled over him.

Jumping to action

The Target-bound witness and his companion in the car wasted no time, getting out and racing to the injured man, whose leg was clearly amputated and losing blood quickly. The man tied off the victim’s leg with a makeshift belt tourniquet to stop the blood. Remarkably, these two people and one other individual were the only witnesses who came forward to assist the victim before first-aid workers arrived on the scene after what seemed like an eternity.

What to do if you witness a train accident

Paramedics credited these willing amateur first responders with saving the man’s life, which did little to remove their shock at the lack of assistance provided by others. The third hero explained that she was motivated to act due to an experience one month prior when she had been injured in an accident herself and no one had stopped to assist her.

While it’s critical to help those who have been injured, once the professionals arrive it’s equally important to get out of their way and let them treat the victims. With that being said, experts recommend a few simple guidelines at the scene of a serious accident:

  • Approach the scene with caution to avoid causing additional accidents through slowing down traffic or coming to a sudden stop.
  • Only move victims if they are in immediate danger in their present location, since further injuries may occur if you move them.
  • Reassure the victim through calm, gentle speech and motions.

Train accident injuries may be some of the most traumatic on our roads, and recovering from them requires assistance from railroad attorneys with knowledge and experience in this specific practice area.