Cop, Brave Citizens Pull 96-Year-Old Woman From Car Seconds Before Train Hits

Unable to drive off or exit the car, Antoinette Lazzara was saved when three good Samaritans took action.

Gordon Chibroski/Getty Images

A 96-year-old Illinois woman escaped death when a police officer and two good Samaritans pulled her out of her car merely seconds before a train crashed into it, ABC 6 reports.

Monday night’s series of events began with Antoinette Lazzara somehow managing to get her car stuck on the railroad crossing at Grace and St. Charles roads in the town of Lombard. The elderly woman was reportedly disoriented and unable to exit the vehicle, with a train rapidly approaching. Fortunately, three courageous bystanders took action.

“I saw the wheels turning, saw that the vehicle was stuck and was not able to move,” said Lombard Police Officer Dan Herrera. 

Herrera had help from two brave onlookers, namely 19-year-old Steve Spapperi and 24-year-old Justin Mueller. The two civilians promptly got out of their own cars and ran over to help Herrera manage the situation. 

“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,’” said Spapperi. Time was of the essence, and fortunately, swift action was taken before any serious injuries or fatalities could occur. It took no more than 10 seconds from the moment these three people pulled Lazzara out of her car, to the train crashing into it

The footage, captured by Chris Diaz who was a passenger in Spapperi’s car that night, shows how serious the Metra train’s damage to Lazzara’s 2006 Lincoln Zephyr really was.

It was only afterward, that Mueller realized how disoriented the woman really was. 

“She didn’t quite know how she got there,” recalled Mueller. “She didn’t know what happened. We started walking her out and realized, with her cane and everything, she couldn’t walk on the rocks and stuff. We ended up having to carry her off.” 

Lazzara was unharmed but was taken to a hospital and placed under observation the following evening. It was discovered only then that she had been reported missing from her home, a mere 12 hours before Monday’s events. For Lombard Police Chief Roy Newton, however, the most important takeaways of the evening were figuring out how exactly somebody could’ve gotten stuck in that scenario, and being grateful for every helpful, generous citizen in his district. 

“It’s nice to know that we still have people that act when others are in need,” he said. “I truly believe that they helped save a life this day. These are both Lombard residents and I’m very proud of our town. Lombard is a community that cares about its neighbors and that’s evident with this situation.”