Warning: This story contains graphic content.
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Mark Jenkins of California is thanking his lucky stars after narrowly avoiding death twice in just two minutes.
Mark is a former United States Air Force fighter pilot who has co-owned a small Cessna 172 airplane with his son for the past 20 years. On a clear Sunday afternoon in January, he left Whiteman Airport in the San Fernando Valley for a solo flight. Just moments after he took off, the plane’s engines failed and he was forced to make a crash landing.
Hoping to avoid injury to anyone on the ground, Mark aimed the plane for some railroad tracks in Los Angeles. His step-son-in-law Dan Mortensen says landing on the tracks likely resulted in more injuries to Mark, who suffered severe facial injuries along with broken ribs.
Just surviving a crash landing is incredible enough, but Mark’s luck was about to be further put to the test. Thankfully, the LAPD’s Foothill Division stationhouse is right next to the train tracks, so officers were on the scene almost instantly. Body cam footage shows the officers rushing to help the bloodied pilot in the plane.
Although they had called the transport authority to stop any trains that were on route, the message must not have been received in time. Within seconds of the crash, officers looked up to see flashing lights and bells sounding, and a commuter train barreling straight towards them.
“We looked and sure enough there was a train headed right for us at full speed,”recalled Officer Robert Sherock.
“Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!”we hear the cops yelling as they quickly cut the pilot’s seatbelt and haul him out of the plane. They’d barely cleared the tracks when the train hit the aircraft, shattering debris for yards. Bystanders who recorded the collision can be heard crying out in awe as the train decimates the plane.
Officer Damien Castro says adrenaline and training were the keys to making this rescue happen. “When things like that happen you kind of just go and do it,”he said. “You don’t really have much time to think.â€
Mark was taken to the hospital, and his family members are praising the LAPD for their heroic actions that day. If they hadn’t gotten him out in the nick of time, the story would have had a tragic ending.
“What went through my head all night last night was what if they couldn’t cut through the seat belt in time or couldn’t get the door open because it was jammed from the impact,”said Dan. “All it could’ve taken is another two seconds and at least he would have been killed, probably with certainty, I think.”
Thank goodness these fearless heroes were there! Maybe it’s not just cats who have nine lives?
Watch the heart-pounding video of Mark’s rescue below, and be sure to share this incredible story.
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