Train Track Rescue

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Friday, January 28, 2011 - 11:23am

Friends pull woman from path of speeding train moments before fiery impact.

Three Good Samaritans say they didn't think twice about rushing in to pull a woman from the path of a speeding train.

"I couldn't imagine living with myself knowing we could have done something if we didn't do something," says Justin Jeffress.

Jeffress and his friends Destin Paliga and Kyle Hodgson were certainly in the right place at the right time.

The three Chesterton, Indiana men were able to pull 24-year-old Courtney Altoff from behind the wheel of her car seconds before it was struck by a train

Altoff's 2002 Honda Accord was crushed and burst into flames when the train hit.

The men friends were coming back from a birthday party and saw her asleep at the wheel, stopped in traffic near the railroad crossing.

"We pulled up next to her and honked the horn and started shouting. She woke up, kind of went back down and then she woke up and kind of turned left on the tracks like it was a street to turn down," Hodgson recalls.

"I looked and saw the light and said, 'Oh, there is a train coming!'," says Paliga. "So I ran and got her out and threw her to the side."

"The car immediately caught fire as soon as the car made contact," says Hodgson. "Destin got to her first and got her out of the car. I just made sure they got away from the car more. It was a strange scene."

After the rescue, Altoff was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

"It was like they were filming a movie, and until it was all said and done it really didn't all set in what had actually occurred," says Jeffress.

The men say they still think about the incident every time they hear a train whistle.

In Chesterton, that happens about 80 times each day.
 

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