Bystanders, police rescue woman stuck on tracks just before train crashes into car

Lombard Police Department
Lombard Police Department

(CHICAGO) — Authorities are crediting two bystanders with helping to rescue a 96-year-old woman just before a train smashed into her car.

The woman, identified as Antoinette Lazarra of Burr Ridge Illinois, drove her 2006 Lincoln Zephyr onto the tracks after she attempted to make a right turn onto Grace Street in Lombard, a suburb of Chicago, and lost control of the vehicle after 8 p.m. Monday night, the Lombard Police Department said in a statement.

One of the good Samaritans, 19-year-old Stephen Spapperi, was driving northbound on Grace Street when he saw Lazarra lose control and drive east onto the tracks, police said. The other bystander, 24-year-old Justin Mueller, was driving behind Spapperi when the car veered toward danger, according to authorities.

When Lombard police officer Dan Herrera responded to the scene, he saw that the two citizens had left their own vehicles to assist the driver, police said. All three men helped Lazarra out of the sedan and off the tracks.

Shortly after, Metra Train No. 134 collided with the vehicle as it headed westbound, police said, adding that the train had begun to slow after a call was made to halt all train traffic.

The train crashed into the car less than 10 seconds after the woman was pulled out, Chicago ABC station WLS-TV reported.

“We started pulling her out of the car, and that’s when you see the train lights turning the corner and we were like, ‘Yeah, we gotta get out of here,'” Spapperi told WLS.

Video released by the police department shows the train slamming into the car, pushing it forward for several feet. The vehicle’s front end was completely smashed in.

Lazarra had been reported missing by her family Monday morning and appeared disoriented, police said. She was treated by first responders at the scene and was transported to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove for tests and observation.

Lombard Police Chief Roy Newton praised the bystanders, both Lombard residents, for caring for their neighbors.

“It’s nice to know that we still have people that act when others are in need,” Newton said. “I truly believe that they helped save a life this day.”

Investigators are looking into how the vehicle became stuck on the tracks, according to WLS. The train was being operated by railroad employees with Union Pacific, which owns the tracks, the local station reported.

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