Pilot rescued from wreckage in LA moments before train hits

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A pilot who crashed a small plane onto railroad tracks was pulled alive from the wreck by a group of Los Angeles Police officers just moments before a commuter train roared through, authorities said.

Video of the harrowing rescue shows the officers pulling the bloodied man to safety seconds before the commuter train, blaring its horn, smashed the Cessna 172 into pieces.

The plane crashed around 2:10 p.m. Sunday, shortly after takeoff from Whiteman Airport in the San Fernando Valley community of Pacoima, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The timestamp on a police officer’s body camera shows the train smashing the plane at 2:15 p.m.

The plane had landed on the tracks at a railroad crossing just blocks from the LAPD’s Foothills Division station, and officers were on the scene almost immediately.

CBSN Los Angeles said four officers managed to extricate the pilot and drag him onto the pavement. The station identified them as Damien Castro, Christopher Aboyte, Robert Sherock and Sgt. Joseph Cavestany.

"So I was able to watch the body worn video and seeing the officers there, their composure, especially with the train barreling down them on the tracks to make that decision to remove the pilot, without a doubt, save the pilot’s life. The officers maintain their composure and they did an amazing job," said Capt. Christopher Zine of the Los Angeles Police Department.

It’s unclear how much time passed before authorities realized the plane was on the tracks, or exactly when police notified the railroad, but the officers realized there was no time to spare.

The pilot, the only person on board, was transported in unknown condition, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. No other injuries were reported.

Metrolink subsequently halted train service and road traffic was detoured in the area about 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.