Driver escapes seconds before train crashes into car

Driver escapes seconds before train crashes into car
The driver, 96-year-old Antoinette Lazzara, was stuck on the tracks at the railroad crossing. She was apparently disoriented and had trouble getting out of the car as the train approached. (Lombard police/WLS/CNN)

LOMBARD, IL (WLS/CNN) - A Metra train in Illinois crashed into a car on the tracks seconds after the elderly driver was rescued by two good Samaritans and a police officer.

The driver, 96-year-old Antoinette Lazzara, was stuck on the tracks at the railroad crossing. She was apparently disoriented and had trouble getting out of the car as the train approached.

The car didn't stand a chance against the fast-moving train. Justin Mueller was on his way home from work Monday when he and a man in another car came upon the intersection.

"I see a car parked all sideways, weird, on the train tracks," Mueller said. "She didn't quite know how she got there. She didn't quite know what happened."

The driver, 96-year-old Antoinette Lazzara, was stuck on the tracks at the railroad crossing. She was apparently disoriented and had trouble getting out of the car as the train approached.
The driver, 96-year-old Antoinette Lazzara, was stuck on the tracks at the railroad crossing. She was apparently disoriented and had trouble getting out of the car as the train approached. (Lombard police/WLS/CNN)

Officer Dan Herrera with Lombard police also pulled up moments before the crash.

"I saw the wheels turning, saw that the vehicle was stuck and was not able to move," Herrera said.

Herrera, along with Mueller, Steve Spapperi and another man nearby, jumped out of their cars and ran to help get her out of the way.

"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've got to get out of here,'" Spapperi said.

Less than 10 seconds later, the train crashed into the woman's car.

"We started walking her out and realized she couldn't, with her cane and everything, walk on the rocks and stuff. We ended up having to carry her," Mueller said.

Chris Diaz, who was a passenger in Spapperi's car, captured the crash on cellphone video. It shows Lazzara's white 2006 Lincoln Zephyr being pushed more than 50 feet by the westbound train.

"I do believe, I was even praying on my way coming home from work, I do believe that God put us there right in time," said Mueller.

Lazzara was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where she spent the night under observation before returning home. She was not injured in the incident, and her family said it was grateful for the men who helped rescue her.

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