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Man who rescued woman before Metra train strikes vehicle: ‘Heck yeah I was scared’

A man who pulled an elderly woman from her vehicle before it was struck by a Metra train Monday evening in Western Springs said he could see the train approaching, but he was glad he didn’t hesitate.

“Heck yeah, I was scared … But none of that influenced the way I acted, so that was great,” said Ed Suarez, 50, of Western Springs.

At 5:17 p.m., an 80-year-old woman driving southbound on Wolf Road turned eastbound onto the railroad tracks, and her vehicle got stuck, according to Western Springs Police Sgt. John Piest.

Outbound train No. 1257 on the BNSF line, scheduled to arrive at Route 59 in Aurora at 5:40 p.m., struck the vehicle at 5:20 p.m., Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.

Suarez, who works for the safety department for ComEd, said he was driving near the woman’s vehicle and watched it turn onto the tracks.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, you’re not doing that,’ and I pulled my car over right away,” he said. “I don’t even know if I closed my driver’s side door.”

Suarez said he chased the car as it continued to drive down the tracks, yelling and throwing rocks at the vehicle trying to get it to stop. When the vehicle eventually stopped and he caught up with it, the woman told him she couldn’t walk.

“She opened the door and I said, ‘We gotta go, we gotta go’ because I could see the light of the train coming toward us,” he said. “I grabbed her arm, I put it over my neck and I dragged her out of the car.”

As he was pulling her off the tracks, Suarez said the woman’s shoes fell off and she dropped her purse.

At that point, he said a woman pulled her vehicle over and, after calling 911, helped him drag the woman to the street.

“We literally dragged her the rest of the way. I don’t even know who that lady was, but her timing was perfect,” he said.

After the woman was rescued, the door of the vehicle was left open and was struck by the train, Piest said.

When police officers arrived at the scene, they used their bodies to shield any debris from hitting the woman, Suarez said. “It was unbelievable.”

The woman was taken to Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital in La Grange, where she was treated and released, Piest said.

All trains on the BNSF line experienced “extensive” delays as a result of the crash, according to Metra. By 7:06 p.m., all trains were on the move, but they running upwards of 90 minutes behind schedule.

“I wasn’t thinking of anything other than what I had to do,” Suarez said. “I’m glad I didn’t hesitate.”