RIVERSIDE, Calif. --Members of an eagle-eyed police helicopter crew said they were just doing their job when they kept a train from slamming into a car on the tracks.
Police released an aerial image of the aftermath on Sunday. Authorities said a driver lost control and his car rolled onto some train tracks in Riverside.
"I saw this black car go screaming by my house, at about 80 mph," witness Jim Monroe said. "Evidently it went flying up in the air and ended up across one of the tracks."
Monroe said the driver of the car got out and tried to move it, but the vehicle wouldn't budge.
A Riverside Police Department helicopter was working on a call in the area of Panorama Road and Olivewood Avenue and heard about the incident.
"I looked down and noticed that there was a train that is on the track, that same set of tracks and it was headed in the direction of the vehicle accident," Steve Quinn with the Riverside Police Department said.
Quinn and his partner Chris Tavaglione said they knew they had to stop the train. With Tavaglione began paralleling the train while Quinn manned the spotlight.
"I was using our searchlight to sweep across the tracks, hoping that would signal to the engineer that to slow down or stop the train," Quinn said.
But the train didn't slow down, so the crew changed tactics.
"We got about 200 feet above the ground in front of the them, about a half mile in front of them, and lit them up with the light," Tavaglione explained.
The train eventually came to a stop approximately 40 feet from the car.
The train conductor said had it not been for the helicopter crew, he would not have had enough time to stop the train before striking the car.
Police said the driver of the car was standing on the sidewalk when ground units arrived at the scene.
Officials said it was determined the driver was intoxicated and he was later arrested and booked for drunk driving.
Many were heralding Tavaglione and Quinn as heroes for potentially saving the man's life. But they said they were simply in the right place at the right time.
"A lot of it is just luck that we were in the area at the right time," Tavaglione said.
"It was so close and we were just overjoyed that no one got hurt," Quinn said.