Police in Australia are investigating a gruesome train accident that left a man who had been celebrating his 18th birthday clinging to life after both his legs were severed above the knee. Alcohol appears to have been a major factor: Police say that after they were called to the scene at around 4:30am Sunday, they were confronted by an angry group of people, believed to be the man's friends and relatives, who pelted them and the train's driver with rocks, forcing them to take shelter inside the train's cabin, 9News reports. Before police reinforcements arrived, paramedics who arrived to treat the teen were blocked and verbally abused and an ambulance windshield was smashed with a rock, according to police in Taree, New South Wales.
The victim "didn't move at all" in the moments before he was hit by the slow-moving freight train, police say. When officers got to him, "everyone assumed that he was deceased but then he ... murmured and moved," a police spokesman tells the Daily Telegraph. "It is a tragic and horrific incident for the young fella. He is alive, but we just hope that the medical staff or surgical guys can give him some sort of quality of life." Police say that the angry mob delayed his treatment, but "not for too long," and charges may be forthcoming against those who attacked police and paramedics, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The train driver, who was sent for mandatory blood and urine tests, has been offered trauma counseling. (Earlier this year, a California teenager was killed trying to retrieve a phone she had dropped on train tracks.)