A video camera captured the terrifying plight of two women who became trapped on an 25-metre-high railroad bridge in Indiana when a freight train surprised them as they walked along the tracks.
The incident happened just before sunrise on July 10 on a bridge northeast of Bloomington at Lake Lemon, south of Indianapolis.
"They're frankly running for their lives at this point in time," Indiana Rail Road spokesman Eric Powell told WTHR-TV on Tuesday while reviewing the video footage.
The engineer of the 100-car, 14,000-tonne coal train activated its emergency brakes when he saw the women, who began to run.
But the women had few choices — jumping from the tracks would have seriously injured or killed them. One woman lies flat between the tracks immediately, while the other stumbles before doing the same.
"He had thought he had killed the two people here on this bridge," Powell said. "Both duck at the last minute.
"How they survived that is nothing short of a miracle."
Monroe County deputy prosecutor Jeff Kehr told the Herald-Times of Bloomington that Indiana Railroad officials have turned over evidence to the sheriff's department, which is investigating.
Monroe County prosecutor Chris Gaal said the county sheriff's department will review the incident for potential criminal charges but said that until then, it's inappropriate for prosecutors to comment on the case.
Officials say the women have been identified, as train personnel saw them drive away after they'd climbed down from the bridge and wrote down their licence plate number.
Powell said people sometimes follow a trail up to the railroad bridge and trespass on that bridge.
"It's dangerous, but it's easy for people to get on the tracks and walk on there," he said.