Reporting Reg Chapman
COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) – A Minnesota man’s instinct to help overrode his instinct to get out of harm’s way when he put himself on a collision course with a fast-moving train.
Terry Wangen said he was crossing the rail road track near 119th and Northdale Boulevard in Coon Rapids late Saturday night when he noticed a car, stopped on the tracks
“About 50 yards up … it was just sitting there no lights or anything,” he said. “I was just going to turn and just kind of keep going and I pulled over and I just decided, well I gotta do something.”
Wangen turned his van around and drove on this gravel road next to the tracks.
“The right hand wheels were over the track and was heading up in that direction,” he recalled. “I just tried shifting it into gear and sure enough the tires just spun on it.”
So Wangen used his van to help move the car.
“I tired pushing him off the tracks and the next thing is I’m stuck on the tracks,” he said.
Both cars were now on the tracks, and a train was fast approaching.
“The train came so fast that I had all I could do to try to run and get out of the way just keep yelling at the guy ‘Hey we got to get out of the way,’” Wangen said.
The man that Wangen was trying to help didn’t move fast enough.
“The next thing you know he’s airborne,” recalled Wangen. “It smashed his car into mine.”
Car parts littered the area 50 feet from the point of impact, all the way to this spot where one of the cars landed. The Good Samaritan had no idea the danger he had gotten himself into.
Looking at what’s left behind, Wangen said he feels lucky that he was able to help someone in their time of need and live to tell about it.
“I’m counting my blessings, absolutely, that’s the bottom line. I feel glad to be alive.”
The driver of the car, identified as Mikhail Levchuk, was taken to this hospital. He suffered from minor injuries to his leg and forehead. Investigators said they believe think he’d been drinking.