Emergency landings are usually done to avoid any mishaps. However, this emergency landing resulted in something the pilot couldn’t have ever thought of. Police body-cam footage shows a pilot being rescued from a crashed plane seconds before the plane is hit by an oncoming train.
The pilot averted death twice in minutes on Sunday. As per sources, his plane crash-landed onto railroad tracks of Los Angeles. Bodycam video showed the officers working furiously to rescue the pilot from the cockpit of the crumpled Cessna 172, meanwhile a commuter train smashed into the aircraft.
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. As per Capt. Christopher Zine, the single-engine plane had an engine failure during takeoff from Whiteman Airport in the San Fernando Valley community of Pacoima and went down moments later.
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 the train activity, but that didn’t happen,” said Sgt. Joseph Cavestany.
Officer Christopher Aboyte said that he stood by the plane trying to keep the pilot, conscious and alert. “Suddenly, bells and flashing lights signalled an oncoming train,” said Officer Robert Sherock. “We looked and sure enough there was a train headed right for us at full speed,” he said.
Officer Damien Castro said that 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.
The pilot was the only person on board. He was taken to a nearby hospital. The pilot is identified as a 70-year-old Mark Jenkins by a relative, Dan Mortensen, who said that the pilot suffered significant damage to his face; a few of his bones including ribs suffered major injuries.
“Jenkins is a very experienced former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot,” said Mortensen, co-owner of the plane. “Jenkins probably intended to land on the tracks to avoid possibly hitting people on the ground. He didn’t anticipate a train coming through at 80 mph,” Mortensen further said.
Metrolink service was halted and road traffic was detoured in the area about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will further investigate.
With inputs from PTI