Ashley Aldridge, a young Illinois mother, saved 75-year-old Earl Moorman from being hit by an oncoming train when his wheelchair became stuck on the tracks last week.
"I’m just glad he’s OK. The only thing going through my mind was, I hope he’s OK." Aldridge, 19, told The State Journal-Register
Tuesday evening, just hours after the incident.
"Just as I pulled him back, the train hit his wheelchair… His wheelchair exploded as soon as the train hit it. There were pieces of his wheelchair clear on the other end of Auburn."
Moorman told reporters that Aldridge was his "guardian angel."
Aldridge lives near the railroad crossing where Moorman found his motorized wheelchair stuck. She was making lunch for her two children when she heard him calling for help. She then went to her neighbor to see if they would watch the kids while she helped him get unstuck.
As she approached him, a train became visible in the distance, and the crossing arms came down around the tracks.
"His back wheels were stuck on the track. They weren’t coming out. I tried lifting the chair, but that didn’t work. Then I looked over and the train was right there," she explained. "I was like, I’m going to keep trying. I tried again and I ended up lifting him just enough that I could tilt the wheelchair back and then I started pulling him."
Dave Beck, Moorman’s son-in-law, said he couldn't thank Aldridge enough.
"I’ve hugged her I don’t know how many times today. It’s overwhelming. I can’t get over how much I’m in debt to her," he said.
The Associated Press reported
that, since the rescue, Aldridge was honored as a "Hometown Hero" on Monday with a supermarket shopping spree in Chatham, as well as free Amtrak tickets, and an honorary black belt from a local martial arts school.
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