An elderly woman was narrowly saved from being run over by a train after she tried to run across a level crossing only to trip right on the railway in southern Vietnam on Tuesday.
The incident occurred at a railway intersection in Bien Hoa, the capital of Dong Nai Province, at around 8:15 am.
CCTV footage acquired by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper shows barriers had been lowered to prevent traffic from crossing the track minutes before the speeding train, on its way from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, arrived.
Two female railway guards, Do Thi Lan and Nguyen Thi Minh, were stationed at the level crossing to operate the barriers and make sure the track was safe for trains to cross.
An elderly woman could be seen sneaking past one of the barriers and suddenly ran across the track when the train was only 30-40 meters away from the intersection.
“When she was in the middle of the intersection, she panicked seeing how close the train was and tripped, falling onto the track,” Lan said.
Both guards jumped to her rescue, dragging the woman away from danger just seconds before the train crossed the intersection at high speed.
“I wasn’t thinking much about what I did, it was just my instinct kicking in,” Lan told Tuoi Tre later the same day, after news of the miraculous save broke in local media.
As the spine-chilling video went viral online, some viewers criticized the two female guards for not preventing the woman from trespassing on the railway in the first place.
“You’ve got to walk in our shoes to understand that not everyone listens to guards’ orders,” Lan said.
Trespassers are what railway guards like Lan and Minh have to deal with on a daily basis."
The elderly woman involved in the incident has been identified as Phan Thi Cam, 77, a resident living near the rail track.
She suffered from minor head injuries from the fall, but has recovered as of Wednesday.
“Cam said she did not hear our warnings due to her old age, so she just crossed the track as usual,” Minh said.
“She said her actual age is over 80, despite what’s written on the dotted line.”
Cam has expressed her gratitude to the two courageous guards for risking their lives to save hers.
Doan Duy Hoach, deputy general director of Vietnam Railways Corporation (VRC), said the corporation would formally commend the guards for their heroic jump to action, but said it could have ended badly if not well-calculated.
There are more than 1,500 railway level crossings in Vietnam, among which around 600 are manned, according to VRC.