Train Hoppers Underestimated Danger, Got Scared, Called Police On Themselves


Where to begin. Train hopping is reminiscent of scenes from The Grapes of Wrath in the 1930s, not something we hear about in the news very often. It’s definitely an antiquated mode of transportation that’s frowned upon; less back then, much more now.

But, given that 12 million rail cars, trucks, locomotives, etc. are moving things across the country in a given day, you’re bound to get a few. Two guys from Ohio — Christian Hale and Kevin Sloan — just wanted to ride a moving train through the town of Willard, Ohio, and jump off again. They hopped on while the freight train was moving slow enough, then it picked up speed. And continued picking up speed.

After traveling more than 50 miles at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, they got scared and called 911 on themselves while hanging on between train cars. While your buddy’s half-ton pickup truck might pull 1,000 pounds and hopping in the back doesn’t seem like a big deal, freight trains haul tens of thousands of tons; not something you want to be hanging on to for dear life at high speeds. In recordings of the 911 call, you can hear that they have no idea where they are, are scared witless, and just want to get off their wild ride.

“I’m on a train! Yeah, and it’s going really fast and I don’t know where it’s going. It’s scaring the [expletive] out of us,” Hale is heard telling the confused dispatcher.

Shortly thereafter, the dispatcher called the train and it halted. When the two young men got off the train they decided it would be a good idea to try and escape the police. Based on the excellence of their previous idea, this one predictably fell flat. They were caught less than a mile from where they ran.

Arrested for trespassing, the two are fortunate that they’re unhurt. They’ll be charged with trespassing by the town they didn’t want to end up in and the train company has every right to press charges as well. In the back of the police cruiser, Hale is exceptionally talkative and open about his regret for the train-hopping choice.

“I thought it was going to stop in Willard and it didn’t stop and I should’ve never got on the train and I know it was a stupid idea … I wasn’t going to and I never will again, I’ll tell you that right now,” he said to the officer driving.

Trains are dangerous, especially when you’re on the outside of a moving one. Have they never seen an action movie? Lessons come in different forms, but we’re glad they’ve learned without any bodily injury. Perhaps next time they choose to take the train, they’ll get a ticket and sit on the inside. It’s much more comfortable.

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