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02-21-2005, 14:08
Associated Press

FULTON, Ark. - A horrific train crash with an ambulance may have killed the
three paramedics inside, but they succeeded in saving their patient.

Aeda Gayton couldn't believe the irony that her mother, moments after
suffering a stroke, survived and the emergency workers didn't.

Charlene Gayton, 68, of Fulton remained in stable condition Sunday in a
Texarkana, Texas, hospital after suffering a stroke Saturday. She survived the
crash just outside her mobile home while her three rescuers, EMTs Jeff Ferrand,
37, and John Rook, 23, of Hope and Christopher Klingan, 23, of Texarkana,
Texas, were thrown from the ambulance and killed.

A quarter of the paramedics at Hope-based Pafford Ambulance are gone,
officially because Ferrand failed to yield to the oncoming Union Pacific train. But
Pafford paramedic Josie Carlton, who was the first on the scene after the
crash, told KTHV-TV in Little Rock that she thinks there's another explanation for
why the ambulance was caught on the tracks when the train approached the
rural crossing.

"I feel like something distracted (Ferrand) in the back or outside the
ambulance," she said. "We're not sure at this point."

Neither are the Arkansas State Police, who are investigating, although Cpl.
Darren Neal told The Associated Press "we'll probably never know why the
ambulance stopped."

The accident happened about 50 yards from Gayton's mobile home, and Aeda
Gayton, 35, chased after the ambulance, trying to warn them the train was coming.
She doesn't think Ferrand realized the train was so close.

"Something in my heart told me he didn't see the train coming," she told the
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "It was so quick, quick, quick."

Carlton said it was particularly difficult to respond to the scene of the
accident when the three victims were like her brothers.

"The cops came flooding to me saying come help us, come help us," she said.
"And I thought, OK, Josie, this is your job. Do the best you can."

According to what the train's engineer told police, Ferrand tried to back up
after going onto the tracks. Neal said he needed just a few more feet to back
out of the range of train, which clipped the right front bumper.

The force of the massive train, even though it was going only 48 mph and had
engaged the emergency brake, sent the ambulance spinning.

Ferrand and Rook died almost immediately after being thrown from the
ambulance. Klingan was taken to a hospital and remained in critical condition most of
the day Saturday but died Saturday evening, Neal said.

There is a crossbuck sign, but no gates or lights at the crossing 125 miles
southwest of Little Rock. Train engineer John Harris told police he saw the
ambulance start to cross the tracks at about 1:30 Saturday afternoon and blew
the horn, rang the bell and applied the emergency brake. Harris said the
ambulance suddenly stopped and tried to back up.

The 6,126-foot train, with five engines and 99 cars, took 4,046 feet to stop
after hitting the ambulance, Neal said.

It was Aeda Gayton who dragged her mother from the gnarled ambulance, still
on her gurney, and took her the rest of the way to Christus-St. Michael's
Hospital in Texarkana, Texas. Her fiance and sister helped, she said.

"I crawled through a broken window," Aeda Gayton said. "My mother was
looking around. She was strapped down. We kicked and pried and pulled and kicked and
pried until we got her out."

Ambulance passenger in ICU
Monday, February 21, 2005 10:02 AM CST

FULTON, Ark.--A passenger who was being transported to a local hospital when
an ambulance carrying her was struck by a train Saturday afternoon is in the
Surgical Intensive Care Unit at CHRISTUS St. Michael, said an official with
the Arkansas State Police Troop G.

Charlene Gayton, 66, of Fulton, Ark., was taken by family members to St.
Michael after the accident, which killed three paramedics employed by Pafford
Ambulance of Hope, Ark. The ambulance, which was stopped on the train tracks on
County Road 189 North, was hit by a northbound Union Pacific train, and the
impact ejected the three paramedics.

Gayton was not ejected.

Jeffrey Scott Ferrand, 37 and John Rook, 23, both of Hope and Christopher
Clingan, 23, of Texarkana, Texas, were killed.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A train slammed into an ambulance that
apparently tried to get out of its path, but stopped at a rail crossing,
killing all three paramedics on board. The patient in the vehicle
survived, officials said.

Paramedics Jeff Ferrand, 37, and John Rook, 23, died at the scene
Saturday after the Union Pacific train hit the front end of the
ambulance, spinning it around and ejecting the emergency workers.

A third paramedic, Christopher Klingan, also 23, was taken to a hospital
but later died, officials said.

``Perhaps the driver saw the train coming and tried to get back, because
a matter of two or three feet and there would not be an accident,''
Arkansas State Police Cpl. Darren Neal said.

Neal said the driver apparently decided he couldn't make it across the
county road crossing in rural Fulton, backed up and came only a few feet
from getting out of the train's path.

The ambulance was carrying a woman, Charlene Gayton, who had suffered a
heart attack or a stroke. She was not hurt in the wreck, and remained in
stable condition late Saturday.

Gayton, 66, was taken to a hospital by her family, who came in another
vehicle and pulled her out of the ambulance. The accident happened about
50 yards from her mobile home.

Witness Beauford Wyatt Sr. said he rushed to help the paramedics, but
one of them was already dead and he couldn't save the other.

``I tried to help,'' said Wyatt, 25. ``He said two words and died in my

Officials said there was a sign at the crossing, but no gates or lights.
Train engineer John Harris told police he saw the ambulance start to
cross the tracks Saturday afternoon. He blew the horn, rang the bell and
applied the emergency brake to no avail.

Authorities were investigating.

02/20/05 06:31 >>