Railroad trespassing survivor tells story of life-changing accident
in Norfolk Southern video
Mark Kalina Jr. says the biggest lesson he learned: ‘I am not invincible.’
NORFOLK, VA., August 31, 2015 -- Mark Kalina Jr. survived being run over by a freight train, but he lost both legs in the accident. In a gripping new safety video produced by Norfolk Southern, Kalina warns of the tragic consequences of trespassing on railroad tracks.
"I'm kind of a shock-and-awe story because I can physically show people what can happen if they trespass on railroad tracks,” Kalina says. "I hope when people hear my story, they will learn from my mistake so they don't make the same one."
Norfolk Southern is encouraging colleges and universities with campuses situated near railroad tracks to share the video with students. “If we could make more people aware that it’s not only illegal, but very dangerous, to walk on railroad tracks, I think we could save a lot of lives,” Kalina says.
In the video, Kalina recalls the October 2012 night when he decided to take a shortcut home across the railroad tracks near The Ohio State University, where he was a civil engineering student. As he walked around a stopped train, he slipped on some gravel and snagged his shirt on a rail car -- just as the train started moving. Unable to free himself, Kalina climbed onto a ladder on the car but lost his balance and fell. His body was pulled underneath the train.
“I covered my head with my hands as the train rolled over me,” he says. “It felt like hours till the train passed, and when I turned over, I saw my left leg was cut off.”
Lying on the tracks, Kalina used his cell phone to call for help. The video uses the actual recording of his 911 call as he directs a helicopter to his location. It also features a re-enactment of the accident.
The train severed both of Kalina’s legs and most of one pinky finger. He spent 17 days in a hospital and then weeks in rehabilitation learning to walk on prosthetics.
Since then, the 25-year-old Twinsburg, Ohio, resident has dedicated himself to promoting railroad safety. He travels across the country as a spokesperson for the rail safety organization Operation Lifesaver, supporting its See Tracks? Think Train! trespasser prevention campaign. Last year, 495 people across the United States lost their lives while trespassing on train tracks, a 15 percent increase compared with 2013, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics. An additional 415 people were injured.
Currently attending Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, Kalina is also the founder of the nonprofit Mark Kalina Jr. Foundation, which supports others who have lost limbs due to traumatic accidents.
About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.
View the video on Norfolk Southern’s YouTube channel: