Summerville man hit by train: 'I didn't believe in God until tonight'

Coleman (Source: Summerville Police Department)
Coleman (Source: Summerville Police Department)

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A Summerville man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct Thursday night, but he can count his blessings he's alive. Before being arrested, the man was run over by a train.

Officers with the Summerville Police Department responded to the railroad tracks near the Icehouse Bar on East Doty Avenue about 10:30 p.m. Thursday. There, the officers found a black man trying to pull Christopher Rhyan Coleman, 26, to his feet and off the tracks.

The officer assisted, moving the man into a parking lot where Coleman collapsed in the parking lot. According to the police report, Coleman had difficulty standing and walking, was speaking incoherently. The officer stated Coleman was "grossly intoxicated," as evidenced by the overwhelming smell of alcohol.

While the officer was trying to get Coleman's personal information, firemen from the Lincolnville Fire Department responded to the scene after receiving reports of a man being hit by a train. Police located the conductor of the train, Reggie Carr, that had recently passed through the area and stopped on the tracks.

Carr told police he saw a man laying on the tracks in front of the Icehouse Bar. He said the man did not move as the train approached and he did not see the man move and the train drove over the area Coleman was laying.

Carr's testimony as well as several patrons' accounts led police to arrest Coleman. While in processing, Coleman told officers he had injured his knee and he was transported to Summerville Medical Center for treatment.

Once there, Coleman's right knee and left index finger were X-rayed and medical personnel tended to multiple cuts and bruises on Coleman's head and back, said the police report. When doctor's asked Coleman what happened, he responded, "I was hit by the damned train."

Officers initially attributed the statement to his drunken state, but Coleman repeated the line in every interview.

According to Coleman, "I was walking on the tracks, sending my wife a text message. I looked up and saw a light."

Coleman said he was "sucked under the train."

"I remember laying between the rails," he said. "I put my head against one rail and my feet against the other. I remember seeing the train pass over me, and I could feel the rails moving."

He thought the light on the train's caboose hit his knee. The injuries were deemed not serious, "bad sprains" to his knee and finger, according to the police report.

"I didn't really believe in God until tonight," said Coleman.

He is currently being held in the St.George Dorchester County Detention Center on a $1,000 surety bond.

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