‘Impeccable timing’: LAPD cops reunite with pilot they saved from oncoming train
"Hearing the train and feeling the vibrations, and just hearing crumpling metal … that was really close," an officer said
By Suzie Ziegler
LOS ANGELES — Bodycam video shows the moment you have to see to believe: a pilot, who crash-landed on train tracks, being pulled to safety by LAPD officers – seconds before a train cleaved the small airplane in two, sending wreckage flying.
The four officers involved in the unbelievable rescue were hailed heroes. On Saturday, the officers had an emotional reunion with the pilot they saved, reported ABC 7.
“I told them I loved them and thank you for saving my life. A bunch of great, crazy guys,” pilot Mark Jenkins told ABC 7. “They did their duty and I thank them for that very much.”
An appreciation event was held at the Condor Squadron, a non-profit pilots’ association that flies historic WWII fighter planes to honor veterans. The officers even had a chance to fly with the squadron as a thank you for their heroics.
The four officers also took time to reflect on that fateful day in January.
Foothill Division Officers displayed heroism and quick action by saving the life of a pilot who made an emergency landing on the railroad tracks at San Fernando Rd. and Osborne St., just before an oncoming train collided with the aircraft. pic.twitter.com/DDxtGGIIMo— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) January 10, 2022
“Hearing the train and feeling the vibrations through the floor, and just hearing crumpling metal, and I was just like, 'Wow, that was close, that was really close,’” said Officer Christopher Aboyte.
“Being in the moment, it was just, we needed to take action," added Officer Joseph Cavestany. "It was just kind of second nature.”
Officer Robert Sherock says he doesn’t normally patrol in that area and was in the right place at the right time.
“The timing I think was just impeccable,” said Sherock. “They say everything happens for a reason. I don't patrol nearby there that day. But I had some other business that put me there, and I think God was on everyone's side that day.”
On January 9, four LAPD Foothill Division Officers rescued Pilot Mark Jenkins after his plane crashed, and seconds before an oncoming train collided into his plane.— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) April 17, 2022
Today, the World Famous Condor Squadron honored the officers, who had the opportunity to reunite with Mr. Jenkins. pic.twitter.com/rnu363O4x0
Officer Damien Castro echoed that statement.
“God put us in the place to be at the right time, and we were able to do our job,” Castro said. "And fortunately, everyone made it out OK.”
Jenkins’ plane crashed due to engine failure, according to the report. Jenkins says he doesn’t remember much about the crash, but he knows he had one thing in mind: don’t hurt others.
"I had seconds to make a decision on what to do," Jenkins said. "I had always known that if I had an engine failure and I wasn't any higher than the tower, I knew that I had to take evasive action and land somewhere that didn't kill people. My goal was to land where I didn't kill anybody. I take that risk, they don't. And I didn't have anybody in my way except for the railroad track."