BENTON, Mo. -- A Scott County sheriff's deputy was acknowledged Monday for heroism after saving crew members from a burning train last month.
Justin Wooten of Chaffee, Mo., received a plaque from Union Pacific Railroad and a plaque from Scott County for pulling two Union Pacific employees out of a wrecked engine after a May 25 cargo train collision at Rockview, Mo., in Scott County. The engine was lodged next to the train's second engine, which began burning after the crash.
Wooten, who was off-duty Monday, was called in to work for what he thought was an afternoon meeting, and he was told to wear his uniform. Instead, he was surprised by Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter, Union Pacific employees, Scott County Commissioner Jamie Burger and other county employees when he walked into the commission chambers.
"I was a little nervous," Wooten said about being called in for a meeting.
The collision occurred at about 2:30 a.m. May 25 when a Union Pacific train hit a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train at a rail intersection near Route M and County Road 210. Derailed rail cars then hit columns supporting the Route M overpass, causing it to buckle. Seven people were injured after the collision, none seriously.
Wooten said he received a call that morning that the overpass had collapsed at Rockview. He responded to the scene, where several people were injured.
"I looked on the bridge and saw the train on fire. Then I heard someone was in there asking for help," Wooten recalled.
Wooten said he crawled down a hill to the engine and lifted the crew members to safety. He then summoned medical personnel who moved the railroad employees away from the crash site.
"We're in his debt for the heroism of what he was able to do to help our crew members," said Ben Jones, director of public affairs for Union Pacific.
On behalf of Scott County, the sheriff presented a plaque to Wooten.
"I'm very proud of him," Walter said. "He knew some people were in need of help and their lives were in danger."
Wooten said he didn't have any second thoughts about offering his assistance that morning; he was just doing his job.
"I would do it again, too," Wooten said.