The quick actions of a U.S. Army second lieutenant are being credited with limiting fatalities in the Dec. 18 Amtrak derailment in Tacoma, Washington, that occurred as he was driving on the freeway.
Robert McCoy, who serves in the Army's medical field at nearby Lewis-McChord, a joint base of the Army and Air Force, witnessed an Amtrak passenger car tumbling off an I-5 overpass after crashing through a concrete barrier and smashing onto the cars directly in front of him, according to KCPQ.
After hitting his brakes to avoid impact, McCoy quickly exited his vehicle and began administering aid to the injured, reports The Daily Caller.
"I couldn't afford to be scared, I couldn’t afford to be shocked,” McCoy told KCPQ. “I had to do what I am called to do and focus and channel that and help these people around me get to safety as best as possible.”
McCoy's medical training helped him act quickly as he sought to minimize injuries. He grabbed a CPR mask and a tourniquet from his truck and rushed in to help.
"There were individuals who had been ejected from the train onto the pavement," McCoy said. After carrying many of the ejected passengers to safety, McCoy turned his attention to the train car still dangling off the overpass above.
McCoy and another volunteer climbed atop a semi truck that had been damaged by falling debris and were able to make it up into the suspended rail car teetering on the overpass, which held 20 to 30 passengers, according to KCPQ.
Among those trapped inside the car was a family whose grandmother had been partially ejected and was hanging out a window.
One he and another volunteer were inside, McCoy said, he found 20 to 30 passengers.
Describing the rescue to KCPQ, McCoy said, "Her daughter kind of pulled her out backwards and I just reached under her and picked her up and put her down on some form of safe structure."
The Dec. 18 crash killed three people and injured at least 100 others.
The cause of the derailment is being attributed to human error, as the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Initial investigations indicated that positive train control -- the technology that automatically slows down a train for safe passage through sharp turns -- had not been activated.
Sources: KCPQ, The Daily Caller / Featured Image: National Transportation Safety Board/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: National Transportation Safety Board/Flickr, Visitor7/Wikimedia Commons