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Above and beyond the call.

At about 12:40 p.m. on June 6, 2003, a 400,000-pound locomotive somehow became detached from the rest of an Idaho Northern & Pacific Railroad train near Boise, Idaho. It began rolling downhill toward Nampa, some 25 miles to the west, reportedly reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

Worried that the unmanned locomotive might cause a serious accident, Corporal C. Dwayne Prescott, a motorcycle officer and 22-year Idaho State Police veteran, jumped on his cycle and raced after the engine. He hoped to catch it, climb aboard, and somehow bring it to a halt.

At one point, the runaway engine reached a slight incline and slowed to around 20 mph. Prescott tried, unsuccessfully, to hop on-board but the train was still going too fast. Climbing back on his motorcycle, he rushed ahead to an intersection in Nampa, where the tracks again went uphill. This time, the engine slowed to between five and 10 mph, enabling the courageous lawman to run alongside and climb aboard.

Prescott recalled for the June 6 Idaho Statesman, "I just got on and started pulling levers." A dispatcher sought to relay instructions to him. Prescott exclaimed. "I'm on the train. How do I stop this thing?" The dispatcher replied, "There's something marked emergency--you're supposed to pull that."

Prescott could not find anything marked "emergency," but he did locate a lever marked "reverse." He recalls that when he shoved the lever into reverse, the train "kind of slowed and started going the other way. So I tried pushing [the lever] the other way to get it to jam up."

Meanwhile, railroad personnel placed ties on the tracks which eventually engaged the wheels and brought the locomotive to a halt some 22 miles from its point of departure. No one was injured during the ordeal. Corporal Prescott did not learn until later that the engine had been on a collision course with another train parked on the same track in a downtown Nampa rail yard.

Prescott claimed that his quick thinking, personally risky actions were all in the line of duty and something any trooper would have done. He told the Statesman: "It was something we needed to do, and I was the one in the best position to do it." However, Idaho State Police Captain Stephen Jones told the paper that "it took a lot of courage to do this" and that "'Dwayne definitely went above and beyond the call of duty."
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Title Annotation:The Goodness Of America
Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Date:May 17, 2004
Words:409
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