Stranger helps family get out of SUV stuck on tracks as oncoming train approaches in La Grange

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LA GRANGE, Ill. — A woman helped a family escape from their SUV that was stuck on the tracks just moments before it was hit by an oncoming train.

Betsy Buckley, a special education coordinator at Glen Ellyn School District 41, was on her way home Tuesday evening when she saw a car on the track near Shawmut Avenue in La Grange. She got out of her car to investigate, and noticed a  freight train was approaching — that’s when she saw the family.

She said she saw the family trying to get out of the SUV. The mother had gotten her 18-month-old son out, but her 4-year-old daughter was still in the car seat. The grandmother — who had been driving was struggling to get her out.

“I just started running, ‘How can I help? How can I help?'” she said. “I picked her up and started running with her like a bag of groceries.”

Buckley said the family was coming home from a doctor’s appointment and got lost. They were trying to follow GPS direction and accidentally turned on to the train tracks and got stuck.

She said it all happened in about a minute or 90 seconds before the train came through smashing into the SUV. Afterwards, she stayed at the scene. Her car served as a warming center.

Firefighter Reid Selvik said Buckley stayed at the scene and made sure the little ones were calm.

La Grange Police Chief Kurt Bluder said it was fantastic she was there to help.

“If she wasn’t there, we don’t know what would have occurred or what the outcome would have been,” he said.

“In the moment it was like, ‘They need help. I gotta go help them.’ I don’t remember hesitating,” Buckley said.

Buckley said the mother and grandmother couldn’t stop thanking and hugging her, calling her their angel. The little girl she helped rescue is named Faith.


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