June 25, 2018
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Portland man’s leg severed when run over by freight train

By Dawn Gagnon and Ryan McLaughlin, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — A Portland man suffered a severed leg when he was run over by a freight train Sunday evening.

Matthew Morris, 19, had been walking along the railroad tracks in the Riverton neighborhood, where the freight train had stopped to allow the Amtrak Downeaster to pass, when he and a friend decided to jump aboard one of the railroad cars, Portland City Spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said Monday.

About 6:20 p.m., Morris fell from the train and was run over by it, causing one leg to be severed at the knee and the other to be seriously injured, Clegg said. Morris is expected to survive and is recovering at Maine Medical Center, Clegg said.

Harris Avenue residents heard Morris’ screams and contacted police, and Sgt. Michael Rand arrived to find residents treating Morris, Clegg said. Rand applied a tourniquet to control bleeding until paramedics and firefighters arrived.

Clegg said that Rand is a medically trained officer as well as a member of the Special Reaction Team who carries a tourniquet kit with him while on duty.

“It is believed the quick action of Sgt. Rand and other first responders saved Morris’ life,” Clegg said.

In the wake of Sunday’s accident, the city reminds residents of the steps they should take to ensure that they are safe and alert to approaching trains.

About every three hours, either a vehicle or pedestrian is struck by a train in the U.S., according to Clegg. Last year, more than 400 people died and nearly 50 were injured while trespassing on private railroad right-of-way property. To that end, the city recommends that the public:

• Never walk on the tracks or attempt to board a moving or stopped train. It takes the average train traveling 55 mph more than a mile — the length or 18 football fields — to stop. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision;

• Because freight trains do not travel at fixed times, people should always expect a train and pay close attention to the warning systems in place at the crossings;

• As trains can extend three feet or more beyond the track, pedestrians should remain well beyond that distance on either side of the track;

• Because today’s trains are quieter than ever before, producing no telltale clackety-clack, approaching trains are always closer, and moving faster, than you think;

• Pedestrians and drivers should only cross tracks at designated crossings and always obey all warning signs.

• Pedestrians also should refrain from texting, using headphones and other distractions that could prevent them from hearing an approaching train.

Portland Police are assisting Railroad Police in the investigation. Investigators are trying to determine if alcohol consumption by the victim played a role in the accident, Clegg said.

Anyone with information about the accident is asked to contact Portland police at 207-874-8533. To provide information anonymously, text the keyword “GOTCHA” plus a message to 274637 (CRIMES); go to the Portland Police Department website at www.portland-police.com and click ” Submit an Anonymous Crime Tip” or call the department’s Crime Tip line at 874-8584.

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