Stories of LAFD members who have risen to the challenge when faced with exceptional dangers
Metrolink Train Derailment Rescue
Firefighters Jesse Franco and Kendal Koneval were working at Fire Station 87 on September 12, 2008, when a freight train crashed head-on with a Metrolink train, causing derailment, fire, deaths and injuries.
When Task Force 87 arrived at the accident site, there were more than 1,000 gallons of fuel and oil on the ground and burning. While others handled extrication of passengers, Firefighters Koneval and Franco were assigned to fire attack.
Firefighters Koneval and Franco advanced a hose line to the freight locomotive which was engulfed in fire. While fighting the fire, they heard pounding from inside the locomotive. Firefighter Koneval saw that there were people in the locomotive and attempted to remove them. He used his axe, attempting to remove the windshield from the overturned locomotive. He was able to open a softball-sized hole in the windshield. This hole showed acrid pressurized smoke. Firefighter Koneval obtained a rotary saw to cut away further at the windshield. Firefighter Franco stepped in to continue the work of removing the windshield. Both firefighters opened the window and told the train engineer to “kick like your life depends on it.”
With this effort, the engineer was able to kick open the window and get out. He reported that his associate was still in the locomotive and needed to be rescued. Without hesitation, Firefighters Koneval and Franco entered the locomotive through the hole they had just cut. It was too small to get through with breathing bottles on, so they both removed the protection of their air bottles, and entered the burning locomotive. The smoke was acrid and banked down inside the train. They traveled fifteen feet in search of the other engineer, found him, and pulled him to safety. If not for the actions of these firefighters, the engineers surely would have perished.
Firefighter Jesse Franco and Firefighter Kendal Koneval, for their actions on the MetroLink Train Derailment Incident, were each awarded the Medal of Valor. The Medal of Valor is awarded to a sworn member of the Department who has demonstrated bravery at great personal risk to his or her own life, beyond a doubt and clearly above the call of duty, whether on or off duty.
Firefighters Jesse Franco & Kendal Koneval
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