An act of heroism is catching a lot of attention in Arizona as Hank Roanhorse of the Arizona Department of Public Safety saved a man’s life from certain tragedy. Roanhorse was driving to his home and had just crossed the state line to New Mexico when he spotted a car that was parked on railroad tracks.
Roanhorse then approchaed the vehicle to find Sampson Whitegoat, a 56 year old man that was unresponsive and sleeping. Roanhorse knew he had to act quickly. According to a release from the ADPS, “Roanhorse was familiar with the area and knew that the tracks carried a large volume of rail traffic, often traveling at high speeds.”
With that, Roanhorse saw a train coming around a turn and with quick thinking, was able to pull Whitegoat out of his vehicle. It was no easy task as the seatbelt was still fastened, and Whitegoat weighs in at over 300 pounds. Whitegoat also woke up when being dragged, thinking that he was being attacked. That made Whitegoat also fight back, but Roanhorse was able to get both of them about 25 feet away from the train tracks.
When Whitegoat realized what was happening, he saw his car get hit by the train, sending it nearly 50 yards away. Whitegoat was reported as having a strong scent of alcohol on his breath, but was immediately thankful for what Roanhorse had done for him. “Thank you officer, you just saved my life,” he told Roanhorse after the train collided with his car.
That didn’t mean that Whitegoat was out of trouble. Roanhorse was forced to take him into custody, as Whitegoat was charged with failure to register a vehicle, driving without a license and driving under the influence. Meanwhile, Roanhorse received praise for his actions while off-duty. Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said that Roanhorse would be receiving a commendation for his quick thinking. “We here at AZDPS are very proud of Hank’s courteous vigilance,” he said.
One online poster who shared Roanhorse’s story said that his father had worked with Roanhorse in law enforcement. “Just felt like I had to share the story,” he said. “As the AZDPS officers that my family has worked with make me quite proud, and feel like actions like this should be heard outside of our small corner of the state.”
As for what will happen to Whitegoat, he faces some serious penalties outside of the loss of his vehicle. A first time offense for a DUI in Arizona carries a possible sentence of 30 days in jail, $2,500 days in fines, completion of a treatment program, community service and an ignition interlock in his future vehicles. Meanwhile, driving without a license is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and $2,500 in fines, while driving without a registration also carries fines. It’s a rough road ahead for Whitegoat, but at least he still has his life thanks to Roanhorse.