Trains have been staples of our travel, shipping, and overall culture for a long time. Over the centuries, trains have grown up and expanded from the humble steam-powered versions of old to the modern, technologically advanced, driverless trains which cross entire continents with ease today and serve as the backbones of our transportation infrastructures.
In fact, many trains today are wholly automated. But even with modern technology, they are still extremely difficult to slow down in a short amount of time. Anything in their way is likely to experience a not-so-nice collision if it doesn’t get out of the way quickly.
Some statistics are quite surprising when it comes to trains. Did you know that a person or a vehicle gets hit by a train every two hours in the United States? This includes the most disastrous of all accidents—a train-on-train collision, which can have catastrophic consequences.
Approximately 1,000 people per year are killed in train accidents. However, the individual hit by the train sometimes survives and lives to tell the story of what it was like.
In one of the most unusual cases of someone getting hit by a train, a 34-year-old woman in Sebring, Florida, was walking along the tracks just before 5:30 AM on August 17, 2018. The woman was suddenly hit by a passing train that she had not seen coming.
Almost unbelievably, the woman was still conscious afterward and capable of calling for paramedics to tell them that she was injured. At almost exactly the same time, another phone call came in to emergency services: It was the train crew reporting that they had hit someone on the tracks.
When paramedics arrived, they had to dig through some groves to find the woman. She’d been off the beaten path of the road. Nevertheless, they managed to take her to the hospital and treat her injuries. Imagine being able to tell that story for the rest of your life.
In the middle of the night on October 3, 2018, in Cincinnati, Ohio, 43-year-old Eugene Barb was walking along the train tracks after having been drinking—a lot. To put it plainly, Barb was drunk. As an oncoming train barreled down on him, the stumbling Barb tried to get off the tracks. But he didn’t quite make it in time, and the train hit him.
A man on the train reported that he had seen Eugene Barb hanging his legs over the rail that ran alongside the train tracks and then Barb moved out of sight as the train approached. The man heard a thud, which was the train hitting Barb.
The man got off the train to see if Barb was okay and knew instantly what had happened. Surprisingly, Barb was not only standing but walking toward the man’s general direction. Barb looked at the man, turned, and drunkenly stumbled off.
Rail authorities found Barb hours later close to where the accident had happened, but they didn’t press charges against him for trespassing. It seems that being hit by a train was punishment enough.
Darryle See is one of the more interesting stories about a survivor who came head-to-head with a moving train. One major cause of train accidents involving pedestrians or people in vehicles is headphones—the people simply don’t hear the train coming until it’s too late.
This was the case with 22-year-old See. He was hit in August 2013 when his headphones prevented him from hearing the approaching train until it was too late.
See was casually walking on the tracks and listening to music when the screaming mass of speeding metal smacked straight into him at 177 kilometers per hour (110 mph). It threw See like a toy over 6 meters (20 ft), and the force launched his shoes off his body. They landed approximately 46 meters (150 ft) away.
Though he doesn’t remember being hit at all, See was conscious and coherent by the time the police arrived. Except for a few broken bones, he was perfectly fine.
In mid-December 2017, an unidentified 41-year-old man was hit by a train in Manhattan in the worst of ways. He was standing on the platform of the New York subway at Union Square when two men crossed the tracks to assault him. They punched him in the head and fled the scene.
As he was punched, the 41-year-old victim fell to the ground and his head crossed into no-man’s-land. At that moment, the southbound Q train hit him directly in the head and fractured his skull. He was bleeding, as would be expected when someone gets hit by a train.
Miraculously, the man was okay. Police followed up on the incident by releasing video taken by the subway’s cameras of the two men responsible in hopes of catching the people who punched the victim.
In December 2018 in Chicago, Illinois, a man stepped onto the train tracks at the corner of 71st Street and South Exchange Avenue. He simply didn’t see the oncoming train.
The man walked right into the path of the train and was hit. The force knocked him to the ground onto the rocks surrounding the tracks. That’s when bystander Terrence Sims approached the victim, who was still conscious. The man asked, “What happened?” Sims replied, “You got hit by a train.”
The man simply said, “Nah.” Sims replied, “Yeah.” That was the extent of their exchange. Sims called 911 and waited with the man until help arrived.
In November 2018, 36-year-old Martha Sharp was hit on her butt by a train. The only reason she survived is that the train struck the left side of her body, propelling her away from the tracks and the moving train rather than sucking her underneath to be crushed by the train’s massive wheels.
The incident happened around 4:04 PM on East Fort Wayne Street in Warsaw, Indiana. Sharp was taken to the hospital and treated for cuts to her head from the force of being launched aside by a moving train.
In a terrifying incident that was caught on CCTV in Opole, Poland, a man was struck by a train in November 2015. The video is shocking. It shows the man approaching the train tracks on his bicycle at the exact moment that a speeding train comes seemingly out of nowhere. The cyclist runs right into the moving behemoth.
The CCTV video of the incident was posted on YouTube in December 2015 and quickly garnered over one million views. The footage shows the man instantly launched from his bicycle with ferocious speed. It’s a wonder he survived the accident—but he did.
Probably the most miraculous tale of survival on this list was caught on CCTV in Melbourne, Australia. In October 2009, the person struck by the train was a six-month-old baby—and he lived through the incident.
As the train approached, the baby was sitting in a stroller that was just a little too close to the tracks. As the child’s mother looked away for a moment while tugging at her pants, the stroller rolled into the path of an oncoming train.
The baby and stroller were carried along the metal tracks for a full 30 meters (98 ft). The driver had frantically slammed on the brakes, but trains are difficult to stop quickly.
When it finally came to a halt, everyone was amazed that the baby was still alive and had only suffered a bump on the head. Authorities said that the six-month-old just needed a good meal and a nap.
Elijah Anderson was just four years old when Atlanta doctors started calling him Superman. On November 5, 2009, Elijah was out with his dog, Poochy, when the Jack Russell terrier ran off toward the train tracks. Elijah was trying to catch the dog when an oncoming 1,594-meter-long (5,229 ft) train struck the boy at 48 kilometers per hour (30 mph). Elijah didn’t even see it coming. He was too focused on getting Poochy home safely.
When paramedics arrived, they took Elijah to the hospital. He was treated for a concussion and received stitches in his head. Surprisingly, within 24 hours, his condition was upgraded from critical to stable. Two days later, the boy was back home and returning to a normal life with Poochy. The dog was unharmed and had also returned home shortly after the accident.
The accident which took place at the Friendship Heights Station in Washington, DC, caused major delays and almost took the life of the woman who’d been hit by the train. In a wheelchair, she approached the platform to board the train just like every other day. But this day would take a drastic turn for the worse.
CCTV video from the station captured this event as the woman went a little too far. She drove off the platform and onto the tracks—right into an oncoming Red Line train, which knocked the wheelchair-bound woman some distance. The staff quickly cut the power to the tracks. They found her still alive and rushed her to the hospital to be treated for her injuries.