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'Heroic' Lisbon man dies saving his 2 Labrador puppies from oncoming train

Mark Sullivan, 61, of Lisbon was hit and killed by a train last month while trying to save his two puppies.

LISBON, Conn. — There is that old saying - "A dog is a man's best friend." 

That saying proved to be true for one couple in Lisbon. 

Their love for their two Labrador Retrievers went to great lengths but resulted in a tragic accident.

Shortly before the sunset on Nov. 14, Mark Sullivan, 61, of Lisbon took his two Labrador puppies for a walk. They were named Piper and Emma Lea and were both under 2 years old. 

Both puppies were trained to stop next to their owners if they heard the train whistle, but this time, the puppies were distracted by someone they knew. 

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"They loved this young man that they knew. They started to cross the tracks with him so therefore, he and my puppies were on one side of the track, the train was coming and Mark would not get caught up to them was on the opposite side," said Denise Chapman, girlfriend of Sullivan. 

Within seconds, the train came and Sullivan jumped onto the tracks immediately to try and save his puppies, but he and Emma Lea ended up getting killed.

Piper was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries. 

Chapman said she remembered the shocking phone call all too well. 

"It was from a neighbor and he said, ‘Denise, there’s been a horrible accident. Mark and your girls have been hit by a train.’ " added Chapman. 

Sullivan's "heroic" act, as Chapman says, came as no surprise to her.

"He could not have lived with himself if he didn’t make every attempt to save her life," added Chapman. 

Piper, however, was just released from the hospital Friday after being there for three weeks. 

Her love for treats has not changed at all. 

"She has quite the following here at the hospital. I think it’s incredibly rare for a pet to have such a dramatic injury and to sustain the stamina to survive like this," said Dr. Ben Olson, chief medical examiner of Pieper Olson Veterinary Hospital. 

The Lisbon community came together by hanging a black bunting and putting holiday decorations on a tree to remember one of their own. 

From a family of four to now two, Chapman called Piper her "train wreck miracle."

"If you look hard enough, you’ll find there’s blessings," added Chapman. 

The family started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral and vet costs. 

If you would like to donate, click here.


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