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Arizona DPS trooper drags man from car seconds before train hits it

Trooper Henry (Hank) Roanhorse and the driver's car after the impact. (Arizona Department of Public Safety Photos)

PHOENIX — An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper likely saved a man’s life when he dragged the unresponsive driver out of a car that was hit by a train seconds later.

In a release, the agency said trooper Henry (Hank) Roanhorse was driving home when he spotted the car on some railroad tracks in McKinley County, New Mexico, which is just across the state line.

“Roanhorse was familiar with the area and knew that the tracks carried a large volume of rail traffic, often traveling at high speeds,” the release said.

Roanhorse approached the vehicle and found the 56-year-old driver, Sampson Whitegoat, unconscious behind the wheel. Whitegoat smelled strongly of alcohol.

Roanhorse crawled into the vehicle to take off Whitegoat’s seat belt as a train rounded a nearby curve.

He was able to pull Whitegoat from the vehicle — despite Whitegoat, who had regained consciousness, fighting against him — and dragged his 300-pound frame about 25 feet from the tracks.

Seconds later, the train collided with the car and threw it 150 feet.

“Thank you officer, you just saved my life,” Whitegoat said to Roanhorse after the crash.

The McKinley County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and investigated the incident.

Roanhorse lives in northeastern Arizona.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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