Quick thinking saves life
By Greg Bird
Quick thinking and acting on a McCreary County man’s part probably saved another man’s life Saturday morning, and prevented another fatality on the unmarked railroad crossing at Thompson Tapley Road in Strunk.
According to Kentucky State Police Trooper Kegan Bray the incident occurred around 10:45 a.m. Saturday morning when Vernon Strunk, 82, was attempting to cross the tracks at the intersection.
Strunk’s vehicle got stuck while attempting to make the crossing and was unable to move. Adam Vaughn and another passerby tried to push the stranded truck off the tracks. After a few moments of struggle Vaughn spotted a train approaching and pulled Strunk out of the vehicle mere moments before the train struck the truck.
Vaughn, a logger, said he was just in the right place at the right time that day.
“I was just coming down the road and saw a truck stuck on the tracks,” the father of three said. “Me and another man tried to push the truck forward, when the other guy saw the train coming.”
Vaughn said the driver must have been in a state of shock, because he refused to leave the truck, thinking he could still get it clear of the tracks.
“I told him he needed to get out,” Vaughn said. “But he locked his hands on the wheel. I reached in and turned the car off, then grabbed him under the arms and pulled him out.”
It was a frightening moment for all involved as Vaughn’s oldest son was with him at the time and watching the scene unfold, but he managed to free the man and drag him clear just before the train hit.
Vaughn said he didn’t think twice about what he did.
“I wasn’t going to leave him,” he said.
Even days after the incident Vaughn says he still thinks about what happened and how grateful he was that he and his fellow passerby was in the area to avert a potential disaster.
“I still think about it quite a lot,” he said. “What if I didn’t go that way that day?”
The Kentucky State Police conducted the investigation. He was assisted by members of the McCreary County Sheriff’s office, McCreary County EMS and South McCreary Fire Department.
Last May a McCreary County man was killed after being struck by a passing train at the same intersection, which has no crossbar or warning lights. Less than a month later another train vs. car incident occurred at the crossing, with no injuries being reported.