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Doctors amputate man's leg to free him from freight train

Published: Thursday, Aug. 30 2012 7:22 p.m. MDT

Emergency personnel work to free a man trapped in a train on the Union Pacific tracks at 650 W. David Road (2190 South) on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in South Salt Lake.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SOUTH SALT LAKE — A 19-year-old homeless man had his leg amputated Thursday after being trapped under sheets of metal on a railroad car for about eight hours.

Authorities said the man was discovered by a railroad worker about 1 p.m. near 650 W. David Road (2190 South). Officials said the man had apparently hopped the Union Pacific freight train in Denver, along with his dog.

The open railroad car was carrying sheets of steel between 10 feet and 15 feet long, South Salt Lake Fire Chief Ron Morris said.

"At some point, the steel shifted and fell on top of him," Morris said. "It pinned him from the waist down."

The man's dog also was trapped under the steel and was killed in the accident.

"We believe (the man) was in there for maybe eight hours before he was found," Morris said.

The man, whose name was not released, was conscious and alert when fire crews arrived, Morris said.

It took more than two hours to extricate the man from the railroad car. A surgeon was flown from University Hospital to amputate the man's leg.

"It was a very tedious, very slow extraction," Morris said. "The surgeon brought some canopies and sterile sheets with him. We sort of made a MASH unit on scene."

The man was later airlifted to University Hospital in critical condition.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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