Pilot meets heroes who saved him from plane wreckage seconds before train smashed into it

Body cameras shows officers pulling pilot Mark Jenkins out of his downed plane right before it was hit by a train in January 2022.

ByElena Gomez WABC logo
Monday, April 18, 2022
Pilot meets heroes who pulled him from plane wreckage
A pilot reunited with the police officers who pulled him to safety when his plane crashed onto a railroad track seconds before a train smashed into it.

LOS ANGELES -- The pilot who survived when his plane crash-landed onto railroad tracks reunited with the police officers who saved his life moments before a train crashed into the wreckage.

Police body cameras show the moments when officers pulled pilot Mark Jenkins out of his downed plane right before it was hit by a Metrolink train in Los Angeles in January 2022.

On Saturday, four Los Angeles Police Department officers were honored for that life-saving rescue. Jenkins shared his appreciation for the officers who saved him.

"I told them I loved them and thank you for saving my life, and a bunch of great, crazy guys," Jenkins said. "They did their duty, and I thank them for that very much."

The officers reflected back to those moments in January when they jumped into action.

"Just thinking back on that moment hearing the train and feeling the vibrations through the floor, and hearing crumpling metal, and I was just like 'Wow, that was close. That was really close'" said LAPD officer Christopher Aboyte.

"Being in the moment ... we needed to take action," added LAPD officer Joseph Cavestany. "It was kind of second nature."

Jenkins' plane had engine failure and crashed onto Metrolink tracks near Whiteman Airport in the city's Pacoima neighbor, less than a mile from the LAPD Foothill Division office.

"The timing I think was just impeccable. They say everything happens for a reason. I was down in that area, I don't patrol nearby there that day, but I had some other business that put me there, and I think God was on everyone's side that day," said LAPD officer Robert Sherock. "I'm just glad everything worked out."

Jenkins said he doesn't remember much about the plane crash but he does remember that when his engine failed, he had one goal in mind.

"I had seconds to make a decision on what to do," Jenkins said. "I had always known that if I had an engine failure and I wasn't any higher than the tower, I knew that I had to take evasive action and land somewhere that didn't kill people. My goal was to land where I didn't kill anybody. I take that risk, they don't. And I didn't have anybody in my way except for the railroad track."

The officers' quick action saved Jenkins. The group was thankful to get together.

"God put us in the place to be at the right time, and we were able to do our job," said LAPD officer Damien Castro. "And fortunately everyone made it out OK, so, just doing our job."