A survivor's story:  Ohio man teaching railroad safety after train severs both legs

A survivor's story:  Ohio man teaching railroad safety after train severs both legs

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - At times, the key to survival is in a story.

Mark Kalina Junior, has a story.

In 2012, the Ohio man tried to walk around a train stopped on the tracks.  Instead, he slipped on the gravel, and his shirt snagged, just as the train started to move.

Kalina was briefly able to climb the train's ladder, but lost his balance, falling between the rail cars.

As he covered his head, the train ran over him, severing both his legs, and a finger.

"I only wanted to save five minutes by taking that shortcut," Kalina said.

"It almost cost me my life."

Kalina now travels the country as an advocate with group, Operation Lifesaver.  Founded in 1972, Operation Lifesaver utilizes volunteer speakers and trained instructors to offer free rail safety programs nationwide.

Tuesday, he sat in the front row aboard the Whistle-Stop Safety Train.  It's a partnership with railroad company Norfolk Southern, teaching life-saving tips as part of a seven city, three-day, 390-mile trip across North and South Carolina.

During it's lowcountry stop, a group of nearly 30 safety and government officials went along for the ride from Charleston to Orangeburg, and were expected to spread the message of safety statewide.

"We see all kinds of things on a daily basis," said Jeff Smith, a locomotive engineer for Norfolk Southern.

Smith, a veteran of 18 years, said it can take a train the length of 18 football fields to stop, but unlike cars, don't have a steering wheel to swerve away from an accident.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, in 2013, five people died and 21 others were injured in South Carolina in highway/rail grade crossing incidents.

Last year, the number of state fatalities dropped to four, with 22 reported injuries.

"I feel like my story is something that can keep people off tracks," Kalina added.

"You just always have to be paying attention because if you're not thinking, you're not being safe."

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