Men save elderly woman who fell onto tracks

June 2, 2011 (GLENVIEW)

She had fallen onto Metra tracks in north suburban Glenview. Thursday night, 88-year-old Haya Rozenblat has a pair of guardian angels.

That is when a retired 78-year-old pathologist and a 34-year-old personal trainer helped save her.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a frail elderly woman somehow tumbled onto the Metra tracks not 20 feet south of the level crossing on Glenview Road.

Dr. Raul Heredia was driving east on Glenview, headed home to Highland Park on a route he normally doesn't travel, and felt compelled to pull over.

"All of a sudden in your lateral view you see something that fell, something fell, and I saw the walker," said Heredia.

After suffering two strokes in the last three years, he was under orders to take it easy, but he did not hesitate to help the woman, who was wedged into the northbound tracks, bleeding from a forehead gash.

It happened at the same intersection where an 11-year old boy died in 2004 trying to cross the tracks on his bicycle.

"I could assume she was saying, 'help,' she couldn't move," said Heredia.

He realized he would have trouble getting her out of the way, but then he says another man arrived like a delivery from God.

Adam Smiley was driving in the same direction, glad to have cleared the tracks that normally cause him to wait for the train.

"By the time I got to her, the sirens started going off, but there was plenty of time to scoop her up and move her off to the side," said Smiley.

The pair got Rozenblat over to a tree where she was eventually treated by emergency responders alerted by other passers-by.

"I congratulate him, and I said, 'You have saved two lives: her life and my life - because I probably would not have been able to take her out," said Heredia. "I couldn't leave her behind - I don't know what would have happened."

Later Thursday, Liz Rozenblat, Haya's granddaughter, expressed her gratitude to her grandmother's rescuers.

"There's no words that can express the gratitude that my entire family has for their heroic acts and what they did to save my grandma," said Liz Rozenblat. "From the bottom of my hearts, we definitely want to thank them."

Liz Rozenblat said her grandmother was just out for a walk in the pleasant weather.

"She was going for a walk, it was a beautiful day," said Liz Rozenblat. "She just stumbled on the tracks."

Haya Rozenblat got a few stitches and was already out of the hospital Thursday night.

"She's really the strongest woman that I know," said Liz Rozenblat. "She's a fighter - just a stumble on the road - keep going."

Asked what he thought of another train approaching the crossing on Friday, Smiley said: "I think I hope I don't have to see any more little old ladies laying in the train tracks, I think, for the near future - would be nice."

Metra police were investigating Thursday why Rozenblat may have been attempting to cross the tracks outside of the pedestrian crossing.

Liz Rozenblat says that the independent living home where her grandmother lives is trying to evict her because of the accident Thursday, saying it shows that Rozenblat is not independent.

ABC7 was unable to contact anyone from the home Thursday night to get a comment.

Metra says they are always concerned about safety, but this intersection is not any more dangerous than others.

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