Georgia teen files lawsuit after legs severed by train

Portions of a 911 call a teen made after being struck by a train in Lilburn

A teenager who was hit by a train and survived has filed a lawsuit against CSX Railroad, Inc. and two train operators.

The complaint filed on July 19 in DeKalb County State Court.

It claims CSX and train operators Derick Tyron Marshall and Clifton Edward Martin are responsible for the incident that left Jacob Ohl with both of his legs severed below his knees.

The lawsuit states that Marshall and Martin did not ring the train bell, blow its horn, nor apply brakes and emergency brakes as the train approached Jacob. It also claims the train's front facing camera and inward facing camera were not working.

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On March 2 around 1 p.m., Jacob Ohl, 17, was near Shelly Lane with his feet on the rail when he was struck by the CSX train heading northbound, according to Lilburn Police.

According to Capt. Thomas Bardugon at the time of the accident, the train's engineer stated that the teen was lying on the bed of the tracks with his body off of the tracks and his feet on one of the rails. However, the family disputes that account.

"We are not sure why the conductor has reported and told the police that Jacob was lying with his feet draped over the tracks," a GoFundM page states. "Jacob told the 911 operator and told us immediately that he was walking down the center of the tracks with his earbuds on. He made sure to point out that the noise cancelling function was not on. Like any of us would, he feels embarrassed that this happened. He says he heard/sensed the train behind him. He does not remember exactly if he jumped, fell or was knocked out of the way just in time. He is sure that the train never sounded its whistle."

Responding Lilburn Police officers arrived to the scene and applied tourniquets to both his legs. "Paramedics on scene said that the tourniquets very likely saved his life and kept him from bleeding out," Bardugon said.Jacob was a senior at Brookwood High School at the time of the incident. The family has spent more than $200,000 on medical expenses according to the lawsuit and expect more medical expenses in the future.

The teen's GoFundMe page has raised more than $45,000 so far. A family member recently posted an update addressing the lawsuit and Jacob's medical expenses:

Our family actively works everyday. We work to support ourselves, we work to support each other, we work to keep negativity at bay and focus on what we can do to stay positive and live our best lives. 
 
The recent train incident derailed all of this good work. We slid off the tracks into a scary, unknown place where fearful tasks, decisions and realities were around every corner. 
 
The decision to sue CSX was not one made lightly. 
 
We have already begun the lifelong fights with the insurance company. They paid Jacob's hospital bills, but have since denied paying for a wheelchair and new, custom prosthetics that actually fit Jacob. 
 
We have spent over 10k of our own money relocating and modifying a home for Jacob to live in. 
 
The GoFundMe has paid for the deductible medical bills, the denied wheelchair, and will likely pay for the denied custom prosthetics this week. We feel so grateful to have it as a resource. But it will be gone soon at this rate. 
 
CSX has safety measures in place that keep injuries like Jacob's from happening. Two conductors are supposed to be watching all the time like any driver and blow the whistle if they see someone on the tracks. Especially when passing a city park. No one expects that the train could stop in time, but screeching brakes would have helped to alert Jacob as well. 
 
Jacob began his walk on a city park walking trail. During his walk the designated walking trail ran adjacent to the tracks where Jacob walked over no barriers or warning signs to get into the tracks. People walk on those tracks all the time in that park. 
 
Jacob has taken personal responsibility since day one for his actions and their consequences. I am the one who questions whether there should be a clear barrier to entry between a designated walking trail and a train track. Or at least some public service kind of training for young kids about train tracks. 
 
I did it many many times as a kid even walking over the train trestle bridge without any thought of harm. I would never have walked down a highway. I knew better. 
 
I also wish everyday that the conductors had looked up just in time to blow that whistle and screech their brakes. 
 
We are not gold-diggers. If you know us, you know that. Just hoping to fund Jacob's necessities for his hopefully long and active life. And to start and fund a train safety education program for elementary schools. 
 
As always, we are so grateful for all the support over the last months and are incredibly grateful that Jacob survived and is thriving. 

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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