Man run over by train

October 26, 1997


Staff Writer

A 27-year-old Hagerstown man was critically injured Saturday afternoon after a train ran over and nearly severed his left leg, fire and rescue officials said.

Washington County Sheriff's deputies identified the victim as Charles Ellsworth Fraizer of 661 Hayes Ave.

Fraizer was taken by Maryland State Police medevac helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was listed in critical condition with injuries to his lower left leg, deputies said.

The circumstances of the accident weren't clear on Saturday. The accident occurred on railroad tracks to the rear of the Farm & Family Center in the Valley Plaza on Massey Boulevard in Hagerstown, deputies said. Fire and rescue officials said they first were called at 3:57 p.m.


Fraizer was discovered lying next to the tracks when his cries of pain were heard by a customer and a Farm & Family employee who were at the loading dock to the rear of the store, manager David Smith said.

"The customer heard screaming, and went to investigate," Smith said. "They found the guy lying next to the tracks. He was in a lot of pain. There was no train in sight."

Smith said employees called 911, while he went to the tracks to see what he could do for Fraizer.

"I tried to get blankets to cover him with," Smith said. "I finally found a towel. I wrapped it around his leg and pulled it as tight as I could."

Smith said he and the customer stayed with the man, who was conscious, until ambulance personnel arrived.

"He was lying right beside the railroad track. He said he had been hit by a train and kept asking me about his leg," Smith said. "He wanted to know if he still had his leg. He asked me to tell him the truth."

Halfway Volunteer Fire Co. Deputy Fire Chief Douglas P. DeHaven said his company first got the call as a train derailment, and then learned someone had been hit by a train.

He said Fraizer suffered "a partial amputation of his left leg." Fraizer was stable but critical when he was put on the helicopter, DeHaven said.

DeHaven said rescue personnel used chain saws to cut a path through heavy brush in order to get Fraizer out and to an ambulance.

DeHaven said it took about 30 minutes for rescue workers to get to Fraizer, stabilize him, get him out of the wooded area, and transport him to the helicopter landing site to the front of the Valley Plaza parking lot.

Farm & Family's Smith said residents from Noland Village routinely walk through the woods along the railroad tracks to get to Valley Plaza. He said trains that use the tracks are usually going very slow. "I didn't even hear the train today," he said.

A Winchester Western Railway train ran over Fraizer's leg, he said.

Phil Light, president of Winchester and Western Railway in Winchester, Va., said it appears one of his company's freight trains making a run between Winchester and Hagerstown ran over Fraizer's leg.

"We talked to the engineer and the conductor and they didn't see anything," Light said. "They had no knowledge anything happened. It's a curved track in that area. Needless to say, when the engineer found out he was very upset about what happened."

The train continued on to the Hagerstown destination, Light said. He said when the railway learned what happened, the engineer was told to bring the train back to the scene of the accident.

Light said maximum speed limit on the tracks in the area where the accident occurred is 10 mph.

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