Lodi Police Department officer Erika Urrea was patrolling the area near the Union Pacific Railroad in Sacramento, California, on Wednesday morning, when she noticed that an elderly man in a wheelchair appeared to be stuck on the tracks.
Bodycam footage released by the department showed that as the officer drove over to investigate, the crossing arms that indicate a train is about to pass through started to go down, so she jumped out of her car and ran over to try and help him.
“A northbound train was travelling pretty fast, and she rushed over to get him unstuck,” Lodi Police Department sergeant Steve Maynard told reporters on Wednesday.
“She only had a few seconds, and for some reason, she couldn’t get the chair loose, so she grabbed hold of him and hauled him from the chair.”
The footage showed both Ms Urrea and the man fall backwards away from the track a couple of second before the train passed through.
Although the officer was able to pull the man out of the wheelchair and away from the tracks, his legs were still struck by the train as it went past.
Mr Maynard said that the man was later taken to an area hospital for injuries suffered to his legs and confirmed that he is in a critical but stable condition.
After the train passed through, Ms Urrea called for help and managed to drag the man away from the train tracks, as she and a responding officer attempted to treat his injuries.
The time between the officer leaving her car and the train reaching the wheelchair was 15 seconds, according to the Sacramento Bee.
In a statement, the Lodi Police Department wrote: “Officer Urrea risked her own life to save another, and her actions prevented a tragedy today. We are extremely proud of officer Urrea and her heroism.”
In San Joaquin County, where the incident occurred, there have been five train-related deaths so far in 2020, while California recorded the most fatalities of any state in the US in 2019 with 141.