WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A police officer acted quickly to avert a possible tragedy by preventing a Metro-North train from hitting a car at a crossing in Norwalk, Conn., this week.
The near-accident occurred at a crossing near the intersection of Cross Street and Wilton Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. Traffic was backed up throughout the city after a tractor-trailer accident closed down I-95for hours.
An SUV was stopped with its rear still on the tracks when the train gates began closing as a train approached on the Danbury Branch. Norwalk Police Officer Neil Robertson was in the area after investigating an accident on Cross Street and saw the car stopped on the tracks.
"I saw the train coming and thought, 'There's no way this car can clear the intersection,'" said Robertson, who has been with the Norwalk Police Patrol Division for four years.
He got out of his car and quickly ran up the line of cars in front of the SUV, waving his arms and yelling at them to move forward. The cars managed to nudge up a bit just in time for the SUV to move out of the way of the oncoming train.
"The cars in front were able to move forward a bit and the SUV gunned it. The train came right by blaring its horn," Robertson said.
There was no time to try to evacuate the SUV, because the female driver would have had to get out in a matter of seconds and clear the scene, Roberts. He was also worried about leaving the SUV on the tracks and what would happen if the train hit it, which could have caused a derailment and could have potentially been much worse.
"I wanted to avoid an accident entirely," he said. "I'm so thankful that things happened the way they happened."
He credits his training and experience with helping him act quickly and instinctively to avoid the accident.
"We go through countless hours of training to help us deal with high-stress situations like this so we know what to do," he said.
After the driver cleared the tracks, she drove off and Robertson went back to his duties. A witness identified as Simon K. brought the incident to the attention of Chief Thomas Kulhawik when he wrote an email describing what had happened.
“One of your officers deserves praise as he saved a lady from being hit by a train," Simon K. wrote. "The woman in a blue SUV stopped on top of the tracks in front of the Cablevision building due to heavy traffic ahead. Very shortly after her halt on the tracks, the lights and bells starting going off and the gate comes down for the approaching train.
"Lucky for her, one of your officers saw this unfolding and quickly jumped out of his car and ran to the cars in front of the woman to have them move up. He managed to save the day with about 2 seconds to spare.”
Kulhawik praised Robertson's decisive and courageous actions.
“Had Officer Robertson not been there and taken swift action, the incident would have likely ended tragically.”
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