PENN TWP — A drunken man possibly sleeping on railroad tracks was seriously hurt early this morning when he was hit by a train, state police said.
Chad Elder, 24, of Penn Township was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital with “significant head injuries” in the accident about 5 a.m. at a railroad crossing in Penn Township, according to investigators. But he is expected to recover.
“We were told he’s in stable condition and his injuries aren’t life threatening,” said Lt. Eric Hermick.
Police believe Elder had too much to drink when he ended up laid out on the tracks at Meridian Road and Railroad Street.
“He was either highly intoxicated or passed out,” Hermick said. “There were beer cans near the scene.”
Police described Elder’s head as being on one rail and his legs on the other one.
The conductor told investigators that he tried to stop the train in time but couldn’t, police said.
Penn Township officials said Genesee and Wyoming Inc., the parent company of the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad, owns the tracks. A telephone call to the company headquarters in Greenwich, Conn., was not returned.
Hermick said the train hit Elder and “spun him” off the tracks. His injuries appeared to be primarily on the top part of the head.
A medical helicopter was called and flew Elder to UPMC Presbyterian.
Neighbors near the tracks were unaware what happened, when contacted soon after the accident.
Rescue crews had already left by the time employees started arriving for work at 7 a.m. at the Renfrew Post Office that sits close by the crossing. The postal workers were surprised to learn about the accident.
Hermick said the investigation continues.