A tale of survival

Created: 05/20/2014 6:00 PM WHEC.com
By: Rebecca Fath

His truck hit a train and he was still behind the wheel. For the first time, he talks about the frightening experience and how he managed to escape.

Lee Sietmann, 24, of Brockport, was driving his truck when it was hit by a train in Murray, Orleans County Monday.

Lee Sietmann is calm while he looks at pictures of his truck and the damage caused by a serious crash Monday.

Lee Sietmann said, “I could have died.”

Sietmann says he was headed home from a friend's house and didn't notice the flashing lights warning him of an oncoming freight train.

Sietmann said, “I saw the train coming at my driver’s side door, heard the whistle and slammed on the breaks.”

But the car didn’t stop in time and it hit the train, taking Sietmann on a terrifying ride.

Sietmann said, “It whipped me around, I smashed into the post and then it whipped me again.”

When the truck finally came to a stop, Sietmann said he could smell the smoke and heard the fire crackling. So he just opened the door and got out. The truck had burst into flames. It was a haunting sight for Sietmann’s father.

Richard Sietmann, Jr, said, “The first thing I see is the truck smooched up and burnt to a crisp. So I'm thinking ‘thank you Lord for saving his life, because he could have been dead.’”

Now spending time with his nieces and nephew, Sietmann says life feels even more precious.

Sietmann said, “You shouldn't take it for granted. Yesterday could have been my last day.”

Orleans County Sheriff's Office is investigating the crash. There are no charges at this time.

Sietmann says he just simply didn't see the lights flashing, but he's not sure why. He says he's driven through that crossing many times, but has never seen a train.  There are no crossing gates at that intersection.

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