Engineer Ronald Gomes - great job! We hope you have a speedy recovery. You are a real hero.
Risking personal injury, train engineer stayed at controls
By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff
Engineer Ronald Gomes had just 20 seconds Tuesday evening once he saw the runaway freight car barreling around the bend. Gomes had, based on signals from the tracks, already stopped the train, knowing there was at least a signal problem. But then he was staring down a fast-moving freight car, heading for his locomotive.
“He had seconds to make some decisions,” said Gerry DeModena, the general road foreman who oversaw Gomes’ train. “He very well could have opted to get out of that cab and run.”
Instead, Gomes stood by his post and radioed for permission to move the train into reverse, a futile attempt to avoid the freight car. Before he could act, the car slammed the commuter train with force great enough to knock Gomes "all over the cab, off the walls, all over the deck," DeModena said this afternoon at a press conference.
Blood dripping from his body, Gomes got on his radio to tell dispatchers where he was so they could rush emergency crews to help the 150 injured passengers. Then he made attempts to help get passengers off the train, DeModena said.
"Who among us would have that presence of mind, that personal and professional discipline to do that?" DeModena said. "You've made the decision to sit there as this approaches you and then [it] slams the engineer all over the cab and then [he] gets back on [the radio] and calls."
Gomes is recovering at home with bruises on his face, shoulder, and arm and was not available for comment. DeModena said he spoke with him.
"I think he felt as though he personally was hit by the train," DeModena said. "He told me, in a much more humble way, 'Gerry, I did everything I could do.'"