A 43-year-old woman attempting to cross the train tracks near South Michigan Street and State Street just after midnight on May 17 was struck by a train in an accident that required amputations on both of her legs, Aberdeen Police Lt. Kevin Darst said.
The area is near the large homeless camp along the Chehalis River. It stretches for blocks between the railroad tracks and the river.
Aberdeen Police officers were already near the scene on an unrelated investigation when they heard a scream. As they checked the area, according to Darst, they were informed by dispatchers that a train/pedestrian accident had been reported on the track near the Harbor Battery shop. Dispatch informed the officers the victim had suffered double amputation of her legs.
Within minutes officers were on the scene and applying department issued tourniquets to the victim’s legs to control the bleeding. Darst said the woman was known to officers and had a last-known address in Hoquiam.
Shawna Baker, a friend of the injured woman, was nearby and said she was one of the first on the scene after someone alerted her, and held the victim’s hand before police arrived.
When asked how she was able to cope with the situation, Baker said, “I wasn’t worried about my feelings or anything, I was more worried she was OK.”
She noted that the woman was conscious throughout the incident. “She’s got a strong heart and will.”
After her own arrival, Baker said it was about 30 seconds later that police officers arrived.
The Aberdeen Fire Department arrived soon after and quickly evaluated the victim then took her to Grays Harbor Community Hospital. She was stabilized then taken by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
According to a Facebook post from the injured woman’s sister, her second leg was amputated upon arrival at Harborview. She wrote that her sister is now recovering and medically stable.
The officers determined that the train was traveling eastbound and was in the Elma area when they were notified of the accident. They had been unaware of any accident, Darst said. The accident scene was processed by the officers.
The officers noted that the area of the accident is a high trespass area and is marked with no trespassing signage.
Baker said her friend would stay at the river off-and-on, and that she was a member of the Quinault Indian Nation.
Baker described her as having “a heart of gold” but being unafraid to “call you out on your BS.”
She assumed her friend had likely been coming to visit friends and family.