Iowa man rescues elderly couple stranded on train tracks

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An Iowa man is being hailed as a hero after he managed to push a car stranded on railroad tracks to safety with just seconds to spare, saving an elderly couple from "near-certain death," the Des Moines Register reports.

Chris Ihle, 38, told the newspaper that as he scrambled to dig in his feet in order to heave the old Pontiac Bonneville clear of the tracks, he thought: This was a bad day to wear cowboy boots.

The father of three on Wednesday afternoon had just parked his motorcycle in Ames, Iowa, and glanced over to see the car stalled on the tracks – and then he heard a Union Pacific train whistle and saw the crossing gates lowering, the Register reported. Other drivers were yelling at the couple – Marion Papich, 84, and his wife, Jean Papich, 78 – to get out, but they couldn't, the newspaper reported.

Ihle told the Register that he struggled – slipping in the boots – but pushing the car from its front, he was able to shove it backward. He eventually budged the car's nose just clear of the tracks, seconds before the train barreled through the crossing, the Register reported. Witness Heather Cramer told KCCI, "It was really, really close."

The couple was grateful, KCCI-TV in Des Moines reported. "Everything turned out all right," Marion Papich said.

Ihle had been thinking of his kids.

“I just kept thinking, ‘What if they were in that car?’” Ihle told the Register. “I had to do something.”

The Register also has a video interview with Ihle.

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