Autistic 13-year-old had wandered off and was spotted from a helicopter, walking on tracks with train approaching.
By JOHN McDONALD
The Orange County Register
FULLERTON - A routine search for an autistic 13-year-old boy who wandered away from a friend's house turned dramatic Tuesday night when a police helicopter crew spotted him walking on railroad tracks with a train approaching from behind, officials said.
Fullerton police raced to the scene with sirens blaring and emergency lights flashing.
Fullerton police officer Chris Bradley tore his hand open climbing a barbed-wire fence to reach the boy before the train hit him.
"It wasn't like in the movies but it was a close call," said Fullerton police Lt. Neal Baldwin.
The incident began at about 10:20 p.m., when police were called to a home on the 1900 block of Odell Place, where residents reported that Luis Perales, 13, of Garden Grove had been visiting and had wandered off. They reported that Perales is autistic and has the mental age of a 5-year-old.
"The officers also learned that the boy was infatuated by trains," said Baldwin.
The tracks of the Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads converge just a few hundred yards from the home that the youngster had been visiting.
"We had Anaheim's helicopter check the tracks and they spotted him walking westbound about three miles away, almost in La Mirada," Baldwin said.
The helicopter crew also saw a train headed toward the youngster, approaching him from behind.
Bradley pulled the boy to safety. Bradley was taken to a hospital for his hand to be treated and Perales was reunited with his family, Baldwin said.