A truck driver leapt from his tractor-trailer after getting stuck in snow on train tracks, just moments before an MBTA commuter train smashed into it at a Braintree, Massachusetts, crossing Wednesday afternoon.
The truck driver escaped unscathed, while a few train passengers suffered minor injuries.
The tractor-trailer driver, who identified himself only as Herman, had just made a delivery of racks and dollies to Frito-Lay when his empty truck had gotten stuck on snow and ice next to the tracks along Grove Street, wheels spinning in the path of an oncoming northbound train.
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"It would spin, it wouldn't go forward or backward, then I hear [a man who was helping] screaming, 'Train, train, train!'" said Herman. "'What do you mean, train?' I heard the dinging, and I saw it coming at the truck, so I jumped."
Herman, a Red Wings fan from Michigan, was wearing a borrowed Bruins hat and winter jacket but was still in his shorts, shaken up from the traumatic afternoon. "An explosion, a bomb. Boom!" he said. "It happened so fast."
One witness described just how narrowly Herman escaped from the path of the oncoming train.
"He waited until maybe 50 yards. It was a gray box over there. That train was going 45-50 miles an hour. And he finally jumped out at the last second," said witness Bill Bradford. "Personally, I think he waited a little too long. But if he ever fell, he would've been crushed by the train."
The damaged train made its way to Braintree station and train service was interrupted for a few hours after the crash. The tracks reopened later to commuter trains, which were more crowded than usual with revelers heading home from the Patriots' victory parade in Boston.
"Everybody's doing the best they can to keep up the roads as clear as possible," said Transit Police Deputy Chief Kenneth Sprague. "But, you know, sometimes, with these industrial areas, the trucks are coming out, and the tractor-trailers will keep hitting the snowbanks and constantly knocking snow back down. So it's a constant battle."
The debris field illustrated how fortunate Herman was to have escaped, just a day after a commuter train outside New York smashed into an SUV and killed six people.
But it also illustrated just how much he had lost.
"Everything is in there. I think they found one of my phones. But that's my home. That's my home on wheels. That's what I do for a living. It's what I've been blessed with. Now it's all gone," Herman said.
The trailer was expected be towed away after rush hour Wednesday, around 7 p.m.