– By DENNIS HOEY

Staff Writer

PORTLAND – A 19-year-old Portland man’s leg was severed early Sunday evening when he was struck by a Pan Am Railways freight train in the city’s Riverton section, police said.

The accident occurred about 6:30 p.m. near the end of Harris Avenue, which is off Forest Avenue near Portland’s Riverton School. The tracks run parallel to the Riverton Rail Trail, which is used by pedestrians and bicyclists.

The condition of the man, who was transported by a Portland ambulance to Maine Medical Center, was not known, but police said he is expected to survive.

Portland Police Lt. Gary Hutcheson said the young man was alone “on the railroad tracks” when he was hit by the train.

Hutcheson could provide no other details as to why the man was on the tracks and whether he was standing or lying down.

“We don’t know,” Hutcheson said. “But his leg is gone.”

Because the accident took place on railroad tracks, federal authorities had to be notified.

The Boston and Maine Railroad Police will take over the investigation into the cause of the accident, Hutcheson said. The National Transportation Safety Board was also notified Sunday night.

Terry Williams, a spokesman for the NTSB, said his agency will not investigate the Portland crash. The investigation will be handled instead by the railroad police.

Hutcheson said the man’s mother also had been notified. Police had not released his name Sunday night.

According to police, neighbors heard the man’s screams for help and called 911. The houses at the end of Harris Avenue are just a few feet from the railroad tracks.

A large crowd of residents and a group of young men, who were interviewed by police, gathered at the end of the street. Hutcheson said one of the first emergency responders to arrive was Portland police Sgt. Michael Rand.

Rand, who is a paramedic, applied a tourniquet to the victim’s wounds until an ambulance arrived.

When asked if Rand saved the man’s life, Hutcheson replied, “Most likely.”

Hutcheson said it is illegal to walk on railroad tracks. The tracks by Harris Avenue are used by the Amtrak train service and can accommodate high-speed trains, he said.

Hutcheson said he was told unofficially that the freight train was in the process of braking — its operators were stopping to take a mandatory rest — when the train hit the man.

The engine and its freight cars, which stretched from Morrill’s Corner for at least a half mile north, remained in Portland on Sunday night.

 

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]