PORTLAND – Ann-Marie Gribbin-Bouchard was cooking supper Sunday at her home on 9th Street when a group of neighborhood boys ran into her house, yelling that someone had been run over by a train.
Gribbin-Bouchard, an athletic trainer at McCauley High School in Portland, grabbed a towel and two belts and ran toward the tracks, through the woods near her house. On the way, she shouted to her neighbors to call 911.
Following the boys’ directions, she ran about 1,200 feet to the tracks close to Harris Avenue. On the ground was Matthew Morris, 19, whose right leg was mangled.
He had fallen off a freight train after jumping onto it, and the train had rolled over him.
When Gribbin-Bouchard arrived, another woman, Adriane Williams, was trying to use a boy’s T-shirt as a tourniquet. Gribbin-Bouchard strapped the belts around Morris’ leg and Williams helped keep them tight.
Within a few minutes, Portland police Sgt. Michael Rand arrived and applied a specially made tourniquet to control the bleeding. Rand, a member of the department’s Special Reaction Team, carries a tourniquet kit while on duty.
Morris’ leg was amputated at the hospital, but he is expected to recover.
On Tuesday, Police Chief Michael Sauschuck praised the two women and the neighborhood boys, who saw the accident while riding their bicycles on a path along the tracks.
“Everybody down there did an incredible job,” he said. “Without question, top-notch citizens jumped in to help save the victim’s life. It was a true team effort to help this young man survive.”
Morris’ mother, Tracy Rowe, said it’s unbelievable that Williams and Gribbin-Bouchard kept their composure while dealing with such a gruesome injury.
“We are forever grateful that they were there and responded as quickly and smartly as they did,” she said. “Had they not been there, my son would not be here, absolutely.”
Doctors at Maine Medical Center operated Tuesday on Morris’ left leg, which was badly injured. Rowe said the surgery went better than expected and doctors believe they can save that leg.
As a trainer, Gribbin-Bouchard, 42, deals primarily with sprained ankles, cuts and bloody noses.
In Sunday’s accident, there was so much blood that she was initially “freaking out,” but she calmed herself. She also tried to calm Morris by asking him simple questions, such as his name.
She said Morris’ friend, Sam Sanders, also spoke with Morris to calm him.
She said the four or five boys who alerted her to the accident are friends of her 10-year-old son. They were playing in her yard that afternoon and knew she was at home.
“Those kids – those are the ones who saved his life,” she said.
Williams, who lives near the tracks on Harris Avenue, was walking on the path along the tracks with her 4-year-old son when she heard two frightened boys screaming, “Call 911!”
She said Gribbin-Bouchard arrived at Morris’ side soon after she did. Once the belts were around Morris’ leg, she pulled on one as hard as she could.
“I held it there until that officer arrived with a real tourniquet,” she said.
Gribbin-Bouchard, who has three children, ages 4, 7 and 10, said she won’t let her children go on the Riverton Rail Trail without her supervision.
“I don’t let my kids go without me,” she said, “and they certainly won’t be going there now. Ever.”
Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org