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Home  >  Topics  >  Patrol Issues

October 17, 2007
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S.C. woman pulled from railroad tracks just in time

By The Associated Press

GREER, S.C. — A woman whose car was stranded on railroad tracks was saved by a police officer who coaxed her to leave the vehicle just moments before a passenger train smashed into it.

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Greer Police Sgt. Marcus O'Shields said he was parked nearby when saw Betsy DeVall turn onto the tracks early Tuesday. DeVall appeared to be lost and she was on her cell phone trying to get directions to a friend's house, he said.

Another officer told O'Shields that a train was coming over the radio, but DeVall could not move the car.

''About the same time is when I heard the train coming and I started to coaxing the driver and telling her we need to get out of the vehicle, we need to get off these tracks,'' O'Shields told CNN Wednesday morning. ''At first, I don't think she realized what type of danger she was actually in until the train actually struck her vehicle.''

Amtrak engineer Scott Lynch was going about 72 miles per hour when he saw tail lights and O'Shields waving a flashlight, according to a police report. Lynch applied the train's emergency brakes, but could not stop in time to avoid the vehicle.

As the train pushed the car down the tracks, it burst into flames.

''I do think that he was a godsend,'' DeVall said of O'Shields in a story published Wednesday in The Greenville News. ''I would be in a body bag in a million pieces.''

The train was carrying 180 passengers. Two were treated with oxygen and one person suffered an injured knee, according to Amtrak spokeswoman Tracy Connell.

The train was delayed for five and a half hours, then continued its journey from New Orleans to New York City.

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