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- Location Gladstone, VA
Track Inspector Ralph Tucker was waiting for an expected coal train to pass before beginning his inspection in Gladstone, Va., on the James River Subdivision, on Aug. 13. As is his habit, he was walking along and checking conditions there when he spotted a young child sitting unattended in the middle of the tracks. He immediately contacted the dispatcher to halt the east-bound train, retrieved the child and tried to calm her before calling the local sheriff's office. Police arrived on the scene and contacted family services, whose representative took custody of the two-year-old girl.
"Ralph always makes it a habit to check out his surroundings while he waits for track time to see if he can make any improvements," said Roadmaster II Steve Bennett. "Everyone was tickled to death to hear the good news that a child's life was spared because our coworker was being observant and paying attention to details."
Tucker has received congratulatory calls from both the local police department and family services. On investigation, it turned out that the child had wandered away from home while an older sibling, who was supposed to be watching her, slept. The toddler walked four blocks and crossed a road to reach the tracks. She has been returned to the custody of her mother, who is now required to install a gate to block the child from leaving the home's porch.