JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley was on his way to a morning meeting yesterday when he was held up at an intersection by a train stopped on the tracks – and he never could have guessed the events that were about to unfold.
Around 9:20 a.m., Stanley was waiting for a stopped train to move so he could continue north through the intersection at Murphy Blvd. and 10th St. when he noticed something peculiar sticking out from under the train.
“It almost looked like a bag or something like that,” Stanley said. “But I realized very quickly that it was a man that was underneath the train.”
Stanley said he could only see the right side of the man’s body with the left side seemingly stuck under the train.
“It just looked like he had kind of been captured,” Stanley recalled. “Almost like someone was trying to crawl underneath the train and got caught but it looked like he was fine.”
The Mayor then noticed another bystander get out of his truck and run up to the train engineer to tell them someone was on the tracks.
“You could tell there was a weird moment for the engineer to figure out ‘Okay what do I do? Do I go forward? Do I go back?’” Stanley said. “So he started going forward again moving to the east, and I think he realized very quickly that he had to get off the tracks. So as soon as he realized that, he started going the other direction.”
Once the train was clear, Stanley believed the man who was stuck under the train to be fine so he moved forward slowly across the tracks to continue to his meeting. That’s when he noticed the man was not fine at all.
“I’m crossing the railroad tracks heading to my destination and I look over and I could see then that he had lost his left arm,” Stanley said. “I mean it was clear, that arm was gone. It had just been severed.”
Stanley recalled the man seeming relatively calm and looking like he was disoriented or in a daze. The Mayor immediately parked his car, jumped out and went to assist the man. Stanley untied his neck tie, and quickly fashioned a tourniquet around what was left of the man’s arm – which was only about four inches from the shoulder.
At this time, a few bystanders had gathered to help as well. One was a nurse practitioner and Stanley said she took care of medical questions and protocol after the tourniquet was secured while they waited on help to arrive.
Stanley said the man was lucid and aware of everything that was going on – which was surprising to him, considering everything that had happened.
After the arm was secured and professional assistance was on the way, Stanley bent down and grabbed the man’s hand to assure him everything was going to be alright.
“I bent down and grabbed his right hand and I’m like ‘We gotcha, you’re going to be fine. The police are on the way, the EMS are on their way, the fire trucks are on the way – we gotcha.’”
Stanley stayed with him until the EMTs arrived. They tied a professional tourniquet on the arm and quickly took him to the hospital. Stanley then cleaned himself up and gave his statement to the police before heading to his meeting.
After considering the time frame, Stanley said it was astonishingly only about a 12 minute long event. He believes the man is okay and was in great hands with the emergency personnel.
The Mayor said he never got the name of the injured man or any of the other bystanders that were helping out – but he did recall an exchange afterwards that gave him a good feeling and a sense of community.
“I was driving away and ran into the guy who ran up to the engineer. I rolled my window down and said, ‘Man you did a really good job today,’ and he goes ‘You did a good job too,’ and we shook hands and went separate ways. It was a cool feeling that we were in it together but not with any degree of coordination or planning or anything.”
“The first responders, they’re the pros,” Stanley noted. “I was just a temporary steward but let them do the real work. It makes you really appreciate what they do everyday.”