Locomotive engineers say they're pretty much helpless when a person or car shows up in their path on the tracks. In an exclusive interview, 11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler spoke to a locomotive engineer about his experiences in situations like this.
Steve Wareham has been a locomotive engineer for 15 years and says there is nothing as jarring as seeing something on the tracks.
"You come around a blind curve at 50 miles an hour and you see it--it's very disheartening, I can't even describe it."
It's happened to him three times and all he can do to try and stop thousands of tons of freight is to pull the emergency brake and pray.
"It's one of the most helpless feelings you'll ever experience, to know I've done everything I can and it's not going to be enough," Wareham told 11 News on Tuesday.
He says none of his incidents were fatal but his colleagues have not been so lucky.
"The crew will deal with the incident in question as best as they can. They're like family so we'll try to help them."
What makes it even more chilling for crews behind the window, Wareham says in 80 to 90 percent of deadly incidents train engineers and conductors make eye contact with the victims.
"The train crews are silent victims. Everytime you close your eyes for the rest of your life--that's the first thing you'll see."
The average engineer will have five incidents in a career.
"It's not something you can dwell on. Iit will eat you up."
And he's hoping incidents like these will make people pay attention.
"Give trains the right away, stay off the property."
Because he went through those crossing incidents, Steve Wareham joined Operation Lifesaver and gives railroad safety talks to different groups.
For more information on Operation Lifesaver click on the link below.