|Portrait of Pan Yiheng, the driver of bullet train D301. Pan tried to stop the train crashing into the rear of the stalled D3115, and was pierced through the chest by the train's brake handle. (Photo: xinhuanet.com)
FUZHOU, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Chinese netizens have hailed a train driver, killed in Saturday's fatal high-speed train collision, as a hero for preventing the accident from killing more.
The driver of bullet train D301, Pan Yiheng, who tried to stop the train crashing into the rear of the stalled D3115, was pierced through the chest by the train's brake handle.
"One more coach could have derailed if Pan hesitated for just one or two seconds for hitting the emergency brake," Pan's colleague Zheng Zhenzhi said.
Saturday's train collision has killed at least 39 people and injured 192 others.
The first four carriages of D301 derailed and fell off an viaduct after it hit D3115, of which the last two carriages also derailed.
Internet users have praised Pan's professionalism.
Over 8,000 voters in a survey conducted by Sina Weibo, a twitter-like microblog service, regard Pan as a hero.
"Let us show respect to the driver for he chose to clutch the hand brake till the last moment of his life rather than to flee," netizen LuoyuCX said in a posting.
Pan became a driver of high-speed trains in 2009 and has kept a safe record of 238,262 km of driving distance before the accident occurred, according to Zheng.
The train's "black box" has been retrieved and the Ministry of Railways is investigating the cause of the crash, a spokesman with the ministry said on Sunday.