Homeless man pinned under steel on freight car loses a leg

Posted at 8:52 PM, Sep 01, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-01 20:52:32-04

A 19-year-old train-hopper, who became trapped underneath heavy sheets of steel inside a freight car on Thursday, was rescued when a surgeon rushed to the scene to perform an emergency amputation.

The homeless teen, who authorities have not named citing medical privacy laws, was discovered Thursday by rail workers in South Salt Lake City, Utah, much of his lower body pinned under several hundred pounds of steel.

The man and his dog had hopped the train in Denver, illegally riding the rails in an open-top freight car filled with heavy sheets of metal each between 10 and 15 feet long, authorities said.

“He became trapped when the load of tight steel shifted and pinned him underneath,” said Chief Ron Morris of the South Salt Lake Fire Department.

By the time emergency workers arrived at the scene, the man had been trapped for eight hours. His dog was already dead.

Workers tried for two hours to lift the steel off of him using a small crane, Morris told ABC News, but were unsuccessful as the man began losing consciousness.

Working against the clock, rescue workers set up a “sanitary MASH unit inside the car,” and flew in a surgeon from University Hospital to perform an emergency amputation, Morris said.

The man’s right leg was amputated. His left leg and pelvis were severely crushed and his right arm was fractured. The man was flown to a nearby hospital and remains in critical condition.