A longtime ComEd employee woke up Tuesday morning thinking his heroic act of pulling a woman from her car before it was struck by a train was all a dream.
But it wasn't.
Ed Suarez was driving during the Monday evening rush when an 80-year-old woman driving southbound on Wolf Road turned eastbound onto the railroad tracks and her vehicle got stuck.
Suarez said he could immediately tell that something was wrong and jumped out of his car to help.
"I said, 'Ma'am, you're on the tracks. We have to get you out of the car,'" he recalled. "As I get to her door I could see the light of the train coming from Union Station, and I thought OK, we've got to go. ... She turned to me and said, 'I can't walk.'"
That's when Suarez said he grabbed the woman's arm, put it over his neck and dragged her out of the vehicle.
Outbound train No. 1257 on the BNSF line, scheduled to arrive at Route 59 in Aurora at 5:40 p.m., struck the car's open door at 5:20 p.m., according to Metra spokesman Michael Gillis. Responding Western Springs police officers who were nearby used their bodies to shield the woman from flying debris.
Suarez, who is married with two sons, said the entire incident played out in about two minutes and said the officers were "amazing."
With regard to his own actions, Suarez said he's gotten a lot of training in his more than 30 years with the utility but "wasn't thinking" when he jumped in to help.
"I wouldn't have had it any other way. I just do what I had to do," he said.
The woman was taken to Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital in La Grange, where she was treated and released, Sgt. John Piest said.
The collision delayed trains by up to 90 minutes, Gillis said.