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Pilot rescued from wreckage in LA moments before train hits

by The Associated Press | January 11, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
In this screen grab from a body cam video provided by the Los Angeles Police Department, a commuter train crashes with a plane which had just taken off from nearby Whiteman Airport Sunday, Jan. 9, 2021 in Pacoima, Calif. Los Angeles police officers pulled an injured pilot from the wreckage of a small plane that crash landed on railroad tracks just moments before a commuter train smashed into the aircraft over the weekend. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Police Department via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The pilot of a small plane averted death twice in a span of minutes Sunday, first when he crash-landed onto railroad tracks, then when Los Angeles police rescued him just before a commuter train smashed into the aircraft.

Bodycam video showed the officers working furiously to disentangle the bloodied pilot from the cockpit of the crumpled Cessna 172.

"Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!" someone yelled as the officers dragged the man away seconds before the Metrolink train, its horn blaring, barreled through the plane.

The single-engine plane had engine failure during takeoff from Whiteman Airport in the San Fernando Valley community of Pacoima and went down moments later, police Capt. Christopher Zine told reporters.

The plane ended up on a rail crossing in an intersection adjacent to the airport and just blocks from the Los Angeles Police Department's Foothill Division station. Officers arrived at the crash scene almost immediately.

"I had requested Metrolink to cease all train activity, but apparently that didn't happen," Sgt. Joseph Cavestany told CBSN Los Angeles.

Officer Christopher Aboyte told KABC-TV he initially stood by the plane trying to keep the pilot, who was seated, conscious and alert.

Then, bells and flashing lights signaled an oncoming train, Officer Robert Sherock told the station.

"We looked and sure enough there was a train headed right for us at full speed," he said.

Officer Damien Castro told KNBC-TV training and experience kicked in, and adrenaline helped.

"When things like that happen you kind of just go and do it," Castro said. "You don't really have much time to think."

The bodycam captured the sight and sound of the train blasting through where the pilot had been seconds earlier.

Print Headline: Pilot rescued from wreckage in LA moments before train hits

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