(16 February 2004, California) Alan, a 43-year-old electrician, was hanging
out with his 17-year-old son and the son's girlfriend. They were feeling
cooped up, so they hopped the back fence to play by the railroad tracks
that ran behind it.
Alan thought it would be a blast to watch a shopping cart being dragged by
a train. He tied one end of a 20-foot rope to the shopping cart, and the
other end to a full water bottle, as a weight.
When an 86-car Union Pacific freight train rumbled through at 15 mph, Alan
stood behind the cart and hurled the bottle at the train. The bottle broke!
So he tied another bottle to the rope. Standing in front of the cart, he
lobbed the bottle under the train and gleefully noted that his plan worked
this time--until the shopping cart whipped into him, and dragged him over a
mile along the tracks, reportedly pulling up two spikes in the process.
A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration said this was "an
extremely unusual occurrence." Alan was dead before the engineer could stop
the train. After the incident, Police Sgt. Joe May warned pedestrians not
to loiter near train tracks.
"Dope on a Rope" is the
search-and-rescue nickname for dangling a rescuer under a helicopter
on a fixed rope, as opposed to a powered hoist, to assist a
victim. -Brent Chapman
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Reference: Los Angeles Herald Tribune, Ventura County Star