Teen Meets Life-Saving Halloween Hero

Tinley Park family grateful to have closure after scary ordeal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bill Anetsberger, 17, ran out of gas on the railroad tracks with a train headed his way. Kim Vatis reports.

    A Tinley Park teen on Friday met the man who saved his life on Halloween and then vanished without getting a thank you.

    Bill Anetsberger's ordeal began while on the way to school Oct. 31. He ran out of gas and his car stalled right on top of railroad tracks with a car headed his way.

    "My heart sank and I was just like, 'Oh my God. How am I going to get out of this" Anetsberger recalled.

    Enter Joe McDonnell, who happened to be driving by at that exact moment.

    "I asked him if it started, and he said, 'No, I'm stalled,' and then he just got in there. I said, 'Put it in neutral and let's go. Let's push this thing,'" explained McDonnell. 

    McDonnell pushed the teen's car out of harms way just as the crossing gates came down. Other motorists, Anetsberger said, didn't bother to stop. Some drove around him.

    The entire episode happened so quickly that Anetsberger said he never got a chance to introduce his hero. McDonnell had simply gotten into his car and drove away.

    Grateful, Anetsberger's mother wrote a letter to the editor of the SouthtownStar in an effort to find out who the mystery hero was. McDonnell's family happened to see that article and reached out.

    "My son put a little piece of paper on the article and said, "Way to be a hero, Dad.' I saw that and it kind of choked me up a little bit," said McDonnell.

    To top it off, McDonnell happens to be a school treasurer of Bremen Township, and his office is inside Anetsberger's high school.

    Anetsberger's father said he's grateful to finally have closure.

    "I'm just glad that I was there to help him out," said McDonnell.