Train severs girl's legs

January 24, 2009 3:00:51 AM PST
A young girl had her legs amputated in a horrible accident involving a train on Friday evening. Eyewitnesses say she and some other children were playing around near the railroad tracks off Brookview and Overbrook in east Harris County. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The 11-year-old girl is in critical, but stable condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital and investigators are sorting through what happened. She lived in the Channelwood subdivision where the Union Pacific tracks run.

According to investigators, a group of children was playing beside a moving train, touching the rail cars when the girl slipped and fell beneath the wheels.

Just after 6pm Friday night, paramedics carried the young girl on a stretcher along the same train tracks where she had been playing earlier with friends. In an instant, her life changed.

"So I ran back there and she was out there on the tracks. It wasn't until I got right up on here that I realized that her legs were gone. They had been severed," said neighbor Amanda Fake.

Fake and others ran to help, calling 911. They made tourniquets to stop the bleeding. The girl was in shock, but conscious and frightened.

"She kept telling me, she said, 'Miss Fake, I thought this was a dream. Please tell me it's a dream.' She always calls me Miss Fake. She's a very polite little girl. I said, 'Baby, I know it seems like a dream. You just gotta stay with me.' She told me what she did in school today," said Fake.

County deputies who also responded applied a blood clotting powder to the wounds. The sheriff's department says the one completely severed leg was preserved on ice and flown to the hospital along with the young patient.

It's a terrible lesson about the dangers of trains, but what haunts Amanda Fake is what the girl said as she was carried away by paramedics.

"She said, 'I'm not beautiful anymore,' because right about then I think she realized. And so I said, 'Baby you are beautiful," recalled Fake.

Union Pacific is investigating the accident. The train crew was unaware of what had happened. At the time, the rail cars were moving no more than 10mph.

A spokesperson for Union Pacific said this serves as an example to stay away from all trains and tracks.

Statistics show train accidents are on the decline nationwide. The Federal Railroad Administration received nearly 10,300 accident reports last year. That's a 10% drop from 2007. More than 700 people died in these accidents, while 7,000 others were injured. In Texas, 49 deaths were reported.

Human factors like trespassing on train tracks are the third leading cause of death and injury.

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