LAPORTE | A New Jersey man whose car became stuck on railroad tracks Saturday night was pulled to safety by passers-by just moments before a train barreled into the vehicle.
"He was just seconds away from getting hit," said William "Chuck" Musgrave, one of the rescuers.
Matthew Morales, 70, of New Jersey, told officers he was not familiar with the area, said LaPorte police.
He was going south on Weller Avenue and while turning onto 2nd Street missed the crossing.
His 2012 Dodge Avenger left the road and became stuck on the rails.
Police said Musgrave and his girlfriend witnessed the man get stuck on the Norfork Southern rails.
Musgrave, 39, of LaPorte, said he ran over, then soon the crossing gates began coming down from an approaching freight train.
Musgrave said he began to pull on the man to get him out of the vehicle and while struggling to get him out another unidentified man came over and the two men managed to pull him out.
Musgrave said the train "10 to 15 seconds" later plowed into the car.
"It was fast. We had just gotten off the tracks," said Musgrave.
He said Morales was heavyset and unable to get out of the vehicle on his own.
He walked with a cane and walker that were inside his vehicle.
At one point during the rescue, Musgrave said he told Morales the train quickly was getting closer and to try and help them get him out of the vehicle as much as he could.
"I was very scared and I let him know that, 'We will be dying if we don't move right now.' I think he kind of understood I was not taking no for an answer," said Musgrave.
"His legs did not work good," he added.
Musgrave said Morales told him he had been driving for about 16 hours and headed to LaPorte to get something to eat and a motel room.
Morales could not be reached for comment.