Pope Lick 'monster' survivor 'mentally crushed'
Beth Warren, @BethWarrenCJ 6:11 a.m. EDT May 6, 2016
(Photo: Courtesy of David Knee)
Standing on a long and narrow train trestle 90 feet above ground, Ohio tourist David Knee gazed in shock at the train barreling down a hill toward him and his girlfriend.
They hadn't heard it. Now, it was about 40 feet in front of them and quickly closing the gap.
Knee, a 6-foot-1 martial arts instructor who regularly lifts weights, shifted into survival mode. He jumped over the side of the Pope Lick train trestle, gripping the structure's metal edge with both arms and one leg while the other leg dangled. The train came so close to him it grazed his arm, leaving a mark.
"I didn’t think I would die," Knee said. "I thought I was going to get out of the way. And I was hoping she was going to be OK."
But his 26-year-old girlfriend, Roquel Bain - mother of a one-year-old boy named River - never made it to the edge. The train struck her, knocking her 80 feet to the ground.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw her body go flying,” said Knee, who fought to hold on against the train's vibration. “It’s a nightmare waking up each day and realizing it’s not a dream."
Fire officials found Bain's body in a grassy field shortly before sunset April 23.
Norfolk Southern police charged Knee with misdemeanor trespassing on railroad property, according to a citation filed in Jefferson County District Court last month.
“I understand that a law was broken so there’s always accountability for that, but in this circumstance, it’s already so bad," Knee said. "My life is basically destroyed; I'm mentally crushed."
He said he has since sought treatment from a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and prescribed medications for anxiety and depression.
"It sounds so stupid," he said. "'What are you doing up on a train track?' But we are not stupid people."
Knee has a degree in criminal justice and is studying to get his pilot's license. He said he was in the middle of an extensive application process to begin work as a corrections officer.
Bain worked as a surgical assistant at a Dayton hospital, where she was known as "Rocky." She and Knee met six months ago and dated for about a month.
“I never met anybody with so much fire," he said. "She was a bird who couldn’t be caged.”
Even in high school, Bain was known as gutsy.
“We did a lot of crazy things as teenagers," said friend Hannah Goney, 28, who attended Shawnee High School with Bain in Springfield, Ohio.
"In high school, we were famous for car surfing," Goney said. "She was one of the first to do it, absolutely fearless.”
Bain also was known for her artistic pursuits of music, poetry and art and her warmth, inviting any outcast to join their group of "popular unpopulars."
Knee said he loved Bain's adventurous spirit, agreeing to a trip to Louisville for a paranormal excursion.
The couple made the three-hour drive April 23, stopping for dinner. Bain bought two tickets online to a two-hour guided paranormal tour set to begin at 10 p.m. at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium.
But first, Bain suggested a detour she had discovered on the internet. So they headed to the trestle in eastern Jefferson County to search for the infamous Pope Lick Monster, a mythical half-man, half-goat or half-sheep creature that is the subject of a decades-old urban legend. Some say you must step on the train tracks, or even cross the 742-foot bridge to summon it.
"When I saw that bridge, the thing looked so rickety," Knee said of the rusty and aging structure. "I thought it was out of service."
The couple spotted the large "No Trespassing" signs and a fence topped with barbed wire, but there was a discernible path easily bypassing it and leading up a rock and dirt path to the top of the trestle.
Even some local residents have said that trains on the trestle are infrequent, but they actually zip by 15 to 25 times a day, said retired train engineer Wayne Gentry.
"I thought we were just going to take a photo and leave," Knee said. "She was one to always push the envelope.
"It was Russian roulette to try and walk across that," Knee acknowledged Thursday.
But last month, he wasn't aware of the danger. He said his girlfriend extended her hand to lead him onto the tracks, and he followed.
Bain's funeral was Wednesday.
He said Bain's family shared some of her ashes with him. He plans to put them inside a necklace to take along on trips the couple discussed, such as to the sanatorium and hiking to the Appalachian mountains.
"We only dated a month, but I've never been impacted by anyone as much as her," Knee said. "She was one in a million."
Reporter Beth Warren can be reached at 502-582-7164 or at email@example.com.
Pope Lick 'monster' survivor 'mentally crushed'
"I've never been impacted by anyone as much as her,"
and she's never been 'impacted' by anything as much as the train.