PROVO Kimball Roundy is used to the roar of Provo trains rumbling past his business windows, but the rattle of a nearby chain link fence at midnight made him jump from his chair for a peek out the window.
"All I could see were two shaking hands running across the top of the fence," Roundy said. "I thought, 'Who is this and what are they doing?"'
It was 20-year-old Chris Drake and he was looking for the best grip before heaving his severely bleeding self 8 feet up and over the fence in search of help.
The fence rattled a loud clank and Roundy saw Drake pull himself up, swing his bloody leg over and land on the concrete below.
"I don't know how he did it," said Provo Patrol Lt. Brian Wolken, who later responded to the scene. "It's a tough climb (over the fence) anyway with the privacy slats, but it's especially a tough climb when your big toe is just hanging there by a piece of skin."
About 20 minutes earlier Drake had left a friend's house. When midnight rolled around he left but said he didn't feel like making the long trip home on foot.
He jumped a slow-moving northbound train that would conveniently run near his house two miles up the track.
"I've ridden (the train) before," he said from his hospital room at Utah Valley Medical Center. "Maybe, about 15 times, with friends mostly."
The ride went smoothly at first and home was only five minutes away. Something was different. He noticed the train was picking up more speed than his previous trips. And when the freight cars barreled faster down the track every minute he knew he had to jump before it was too late.
At 723 North he took his chances and jumped from the 35-mph moving train.
But he couldn't leap far.
"Something on the train caught me and I was dragged for a second," Drake said. "Then my foot caught on one of the wooden things (railroad tie) somehow."
The tie snagged his foot and ripped a long gash from Drake's ankle to the end of his toes.
The train rolled on, leaving him lying in the darkness next to the track, bleeding, screaming in agony and hoping for a miracle.
Fences line both side of the desolate section of Union Pacific line and the nearest road runs across the track a quarter mile to the north. If he couldn't wave a car over once he got there, the nearest residence was a half-mile's walk on his raw foot with exposed bone.
But "luckily and by divine grace" Roundy and his wife, who work together running an Internet marketing business, RoundGoods Consulting, weren't too far away, Drake said a week later.
"They were the only ones in the business park," Wolken said. "I never see people there that late."
The late-night schedule was unusual, Roundy said. "Things" just kept coming up. An e-mail here; a phone call there. It all added up.
"We tried to leave at 9, then 10 and then at 11 o'clock, but for some reason things kept popping up that kept us here for a little longer," he said. "It was weird, but now I know why."
As Drake collapsed by the fence Roundy said he and his wife charged out to find the young man in a "huge puddle of blood."
Staring at a "half-ripped-off foot," Roundy said he didn't know what else to do but wrap the gaping wound with a shirt and wait for help. "Bones were showing and his skin was well, he was just in bad shape."
Police and medical help arrived seven minutes later and he was taken to Utah Valley Medical Center.
Exactly a week after his terrifying night, doctors amputated part of his foot.
Drake hasn't currently been charged with trespassing or any other crime, according to Wolken. But, when the Deseret Morning News requested the police report via a GRAMA request Provo Police said, "It is being withheld for the time being because it has been referred for charges."
Possible charges would not be a surprise to Drake. He told the Deseret Morning News he knew he had trespassed and boarded the train illegally. "It's quite a way to learn a lesson," he said the night before his planned amputation. "And something else," he said proudly, "Now, I quit smoking. I think it's for good, too."His positive thinking didn't quit there: "I wasn't planning a huge sports career in my life anyway," he said jokingly. "I'll be fine. I was just lucky."
E-mail: jhancock[email protected]