September 1, 2014

Ames man rescues elderly couple after car stalls on train tracks (AUDIO)

The lives of an elderly couple were likely saved by a man who jumped into action after spotting their car stuck on railroad tracks in Ames.

AUDIO: Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reports  1:06

Chris Ihle was returning to work at a Wells Fargo Bank following lunch Wednesday afternoon when he spotted an older car with handicap plates stalled on railroad tracks. The car’s driver was turning the ignition, but the car wasn’t starting.

The 38-year-old Ihle, wearing cowboy boots for a concert he’d attend that night, ran over to try and push the car out of the way of an approaching train. His footwear slid on the pavement at the rear of the car, so he ran to the front.

“I had my boots on because I was going to see Dwight Yoakam and so I was able to jam my boots in between the railroad tracks and get a good heave,” Ihle said. “I got the car about five feet back away from those tracks.”

A crowd had gathered and yelled at Ihle to get out of the way as the train rumbled toward the intersection. “The car moved and I was able to dodge the train,” Ihle said. “I was worried about the back of my feet getting clipped by the train, but I made it through OK.” The elderly man in the car and his wife, from Slater, were not injured.

Looking back now, Ihle said he was “in shock” at what happened. After pushing the car off the tracks, he walked back to work and calmly poured a cup of coffee. “I didn’t know what to do, so I just went back into the bank and the tellers saw the whole thing from the drive-thru window. They said, ‘holy cow, did that just happen?’ and, I’m like, I think it did,” Ihle said.

Ihle attended the Dwight Yoakam concert in downtown Des Moines Wednesday night, but he had a hard time enjoying the show as friends – wanting to discuss his heroic act – kept calling his cell phone, eventually draining his phone’s batteries. “I was kind of distracted. So, I apologize to Dwight Yoakam that I may not have been too attentive,” Ihle said.