Pilot rescued before train slams into crashed plane recovers

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Pilot rescued before train slams into crashed plane recovers

The former Air Force fighter pilot who was rescued seconds before a train plowed into his crashed plane is recovering from severe injuries after his harrowing, caught-on-camera ordeal, his family said.

Mark Jenkins, 70, will need several facial reconstructive surgeries after he crash-landed his Cessna 172 onto railroad tracks in Pacoima, California, on Sunday afternoon, KNBC-TV reported.

“He’s suffered pretty significant damage to his face, a lot of broken bones. He’s also got broken ribs,” Jankins’ stepson-in-law Dan Mortensen the news station.

His family said Jenkins is a veteran and bought the plane about 20 years ago.

“He was a fighter pilot for the Air Force. He’s a very experienced pilot,” Mortenson told KNBC.

Police said Jenkins was the sole occupant of the plane when it went down after it lost power.

Dramatic bodycam footage showed police officers yanking the bloodied aviator from the wreckage right before it was further smashed by an oncoming Metrolink train next to Whiteman Airport.

Pilot in crashed plane.
Mark Jenkins will need several facial reconstructive surgeries after he crash-landed his plane.
Courtesy of LAPD/MEGA

“Go! Go! Go!” someone can be heard screaming as the barreling train blasts its horn.

The LAPD praised the officers for their “heroism and quick action” in saving the veteran pilot’s life.

“What went through my head all night last night was what if they couldn’t cut through the seat belt in time or couldn’t get the door open because it was jammed from the impact,” Mortensen told the station.

Pilot being dragged to safety.
Bodycam footage showed police officers yanking Mark Jenkins from the wreckage right before it was smashed by an oncoming train.
LAPD/Handout via REUTERS

“All it could’ve taken is another two seconds and at least he would have been killed, probably with certainty, I think,” he said.

The single-engine plane ended on a rail crossing adjacent to the airport and just blocks from the LAPD’s Foothill Division station. Officers arrived almost immediately.

Officers said they initially stood by the plane trying to keep the pilot conscious and alert, but bells and flashing lights then signaled an oncoming train, KABC-TV reported.

Police helping pilot.
Officers jumped into action with the help of training, experience and a hefty dose of adrenaline.
LAPD/Handout via REUTERS

“We looked and sure enough there was a train headed right for us at full speed,” Officer Robert Sherock told the station.

Officer Damien Castro said the officers jumped into action with the help of training, experience and a hefty dose of adrenaline.

“When things like that happen, you kind of just go and do it,” Castro told KNBC-TV. “You don’t really have much time to think.”

Mortensen also said he believes Jenkins tried to land on the tracks to save lives on the ground.

Plane rubble.
Mark Jenkins was the sole occupant of the plane when it went down after it lost power.
KNBC

“The downside to that, I think, possibly a railroad tie or something, ripped off the nose wheel on touchdown and sent the nose down into the ground, which caused a tremendous forward-slamming force so he hit his face and upper body pretty hard,” he told the outlet.

He also noted that the pilot “didn’t anticipate a train coming through at 80 miles an hour.”

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