Chicago storm: Woman rescued by Good Samaritans after derecho topples tree on car

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Woman rescued from car after storm topples tree in Albany Park
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Good Samaritans rescued a woman who was trapped in her car Monday after the powerful storm sent a tree toppling onto it as she was driving.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Good Samaritans raced into action to save a woman after Monday afternoon's storms toppled a large tree onto her car while she was driving in Albany Park.

It happened on Albany Avenue, just south of Montrose. The street remains closed Tuesday because the tree and the car trapped under it are still in the road.

"Everyone did their part," said Randy Calle, Good Samaritan. "People who tried to call, tried to call the fire department when they could. Other people came in and started helping us try to get the lady out."

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Randy Calle and his father Wilson were among several neighbors who came to the woman's rescue. They said she happened to be driving by when the tree fell on her vehicle at the height of the storm, pinning her behind the wheel.

Her two school-aged children were in the backseat, and were luckily uninjured.

"Almost cry yesterday. Almost cry," said Wilson Calle, Good Samaritan. "I see the two little kids coming out of the car. Oh my God, I almost cry."

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"Luckily they were unscathed, but the woman was not," said Steven Navas, Good Samaritan. "So she was terrified. She was yelling, screaming. She was obviously in a lot of pain with a big piece of wood on her lap."

With the rain still coming down and the winds howling, neighbors tried to free the woman. But her door was jammed, and she had limited mobility.

After several minutes, Wilson and Randy grabbed their electric saw, ran an extension cord from their home, and managed to cut free the door. Neighbors then carefully slid the woman to safety and stayed with her until an ambulance arrived.

"After that we all just kind of shook that we just saved someone, you know," Randy Calle said.

It's been an extraordinary 48 hours in Chicago, between the storm, the ongoing pandemic and downtown looting, but in Albany Park there's a feeling of hope.

"It was startling. But I think after yesterday and seeing the heroics from our neighborhood, it does give me a lot more hope in the goodness that we have in our people," Navas said.

The fire department said the woman was taken to Swedish Covenant Hospital and is going to be OK. Her vehicle is stuck on the street.