A Los Angeles police officer who pulled a pilot from his plane following an emergency landing at a train crossing has said he wasn’t worried about his own safety, despite a train striking the plane only seconds later.
“I was just really worried about the pilot and what was going to happen to him if we didn’t get him out,” Officer Robert Sherock told Fox News on Tuesday.
“As the train got closer, I got more and more worried about him. Only afterwards thinking about it, you know, maybe I should’ve worried about myself too, but that’s just not something that we thought about,” he added.
Mr Sherock said that his partner had noticed the “desperation” in his voice as he pushed on his colleagues to get the airman away from the train crossing.
“We just grabbed on and pulled as hard as we could, just ripped him out of there, and the rest is history,” the officer told the network. He added that the pilot appeared to be in shock, and didn’t say much following the rescue effort.
Mr Sherock said looking at the footage of the harrowing episode afterwards made him realize how close death had come both for the pilot and the officers.
Train smashes into plane seconds after pilot pulled free by rescuers
“I even think this looks like a movie. You couldn’t make this up,” he said. “The timing was just unbelievable.”
“There’s many acts of heroism that occur every day in law enforcement throughout the nation that go unnoticed,” the officer added. “And I think it’s important that … the public gets the chance to see what policing in America actually looks like.”
The train crashed through the wrecked plane about six seconds after the unidentified pilot had been freed and dragged away. The pilot was taken to hospital after bleeding from his head and being unable to walk in the moments following the crash landing.
KCRA reported that he was the only person on the plane. No other injuries have been reported.
According to the Federal Aviation Authority, the plane left Whiteman Airport in Pacoima in northern Los Angeles and made an emergency landing at the train crossing not far from the airport at 2.10pm on Sunday. It’s unclear what led to the crash landing, but police have said that the plane went down after losing power.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
The Metrolink train service was paused as a result of the crash and traffic was routed away from the train crossing, located around 20 miles northwest of downtown LA.
The plane used was a Cessna 172 – an aircraft with a single engine and four seats costing between $369,000 to $438,000, according to Flying magazine.
The Mercury News reported that the plane was owned by a resident in Santa Clarita, a city north of LA, and had valid registration until May 2025.
The plane was struck by the train about 20 minutes after the crash landing and parts of the plane remained scattered across the tracks at 3pm on Sunday.
The pilot was in his 70s, The Los Angeles Times reported.
“It’s something else to see life happen like this in front of your eyes,” witness Luis Jimenez told The New York Times. “This pilot escaped death basically twice.”