Lodi, CA – A Lodi police officer risked her own life on Wednesday to rescue a man in a wheelchair who was stuck on the tracks in front of an oncoming train (video below).
The incident occurred at about 8:45 a.m. on Aug. 12 as a Union Pacific train was going through downtown near Lodi Avenue and Sacramento Street, KCRA reported.
Lodi Police Officer Erika Urrea saw the 66-year-old man in the wheelchair stuck on the tracks as the arms were coming down to block off the road for the approaching Union Pacific train.
Bodycam video showed Officer Urrea jumped out of her police vehicle and ran to help.
“I’ll be out with a man stuck on the tracks, trying to get him out,” the officer advised her dispatcher as she ran.
But when Officer Urrea got to the wheelchair, she quickly realized the big electric wheelchair’s wheels were seriously jammed in the tracks.
So she unbuckled the man from his wheelchair, grabbed him by the arms, and pulled him from the wheelchair and off the tracks just a split second before the train roared through and smashed into his wheelchair, the video showed.
“A northbound train was traveling pretty fast, and she rushed over to get him unstuck,” Lodi Police Sergeant Steve Maynard told the Lodi News. “She only had a few seconds, and for some reason, she couldn’t get the chair loose, so she grabbed hold of him and hauled him from the chair.”
Bodycam video showed that the officer heaved the man from the tracks and fell to the ground.
But Officer Urrea popped back up, radioed for an ambulance immediately, and then went back to pulling the disabled man farther from harm’s way, the video showed.
The train was still roaring by at full speed when a railroad employee approached as the video ended.
KCRA reported that the incident was so close that the train struck the man’s leg as Officer Urrea was pulling him off the tracks.
He was transported to the hospital in critical condition but was expected to survive.
The police department called Officer Urrea a hero, KCRA reported.
“Officer Urrea was just in the area. She’s willing to help, and what she did was very heroic,” Lodi Police Department Spokesperson Melita Kautz said. “She prevented a tragedy and she saved a man’s life. She’s very humble in doing so.”
The officer is a 14-year veteran of the Lodi police, the Lodi News reported.
Community members were shocked and grateful when they saw the terrifying bodycam video.
“I’m in tears watching this body cam footage,” Jessica McGowan told the Lodi News. “I work right next to where this occurred and feared the worst when I saw the mangled wheelchair. I’m so overcome with emotion watching this, and I’m so grateful to Officer Urrea for saving his life.”
Residents were blown away by Officer Urrea’s heroic efforts.
“My heart stopped [while] watching this,” Christy Marie told the Lodi News after seeing the video. “What an amazing woman, an amazing human being and an absolutely incredible officer.”
It was the second time a Union Pacific train has hit someone in Lodi in the last two weeks, the Lodi News reported.
A northbound train struck and killed 45-year-old Daniel Newton on July 28.
Watch the rescue unfold in the video below: