SOMERSET, Ky. — A 27-year-old Auburn, Wash., man survived a devastating collision with a train and a resulting fireball near Somerset, Ky.
To make it even more amazing, the Auburn man, Viktor Kalchenia, was driving a tractor-trailer that was carrying a load of lighter fluid.
According to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Kalchenia’s truck was northbound on Highway 2227 and was attempting to turn left into the Warner Fertilizer plant.
“The entrance to Warner’s plant contains two entryways – one for northbound traffic, and one for southbound traffic,” the sheriff’s office statement said. “In this instance, the northbound semi passed up his intended entrance and had to maneuver his rig in an attempt to turn left into the southbound entrance. While doing so, the driver was watching the rear of his trailer to ensure his rear most wheels were not going to drop off the roadway.
“While watching the wheels of his rig, he took his eyes off the tracks and continued to pull forward without watching for approaching trains. The driver then drove his rig across the tracks into the path of the southbound Norfolk-Southern train.”
When looking closely at the video, one can see the train narrowly misses the truck’s cab — saving Kalchenia’s life. But the collision caused the fuel from the truck to burst into a fireball and fuel was sprayed on the front of the train, causing extensive burn damage to the train engine.
Kalchenia was treated for burns at the scene by the Somerset-Pulaski County EMS and later flown to UK Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.