AMES, Iowa — An Iowa man is being hailed as a hero for pushing an elderly couple’s stalled car from a railroad crossing with a freight train bearing down on them.
Chris Ihle, 38, said he was returning from lunch Wednesday and had just parked his motorcycle at the Wells Fargo Bank in Ames where he works when he noticed that a Pontiac Bonneville was sitting frozen in the nearby rail crossing with a train approaching.
Ihle ran over and screamed at the couple inside, 84-year-old Marion Papich and his 78-year-old wife, Jean, to move, but they didn’t.
‘‘They just sat there and the train was coming,’’ the father of three told The Des Moines Register.
Ihle tried pushing the car forward, but it wouldn’t budge. So he moved to the car’s front and told Marion Papich to make sure it was in neutral. He then dug in his cowboy boots and heaved as the train bore down on them with its horn blaring and brakes screeching.
‘‘You could hear it. I even think I could smell it,’’ Ihle said.
Ihle managed to push the car about 5 feet to safety, seconds before the train rumbled by, missing him by inches.
Ihle tried to speak to the couple, but they were too shaken to talk.
‘‘It’s all still kind of a blur to me,’’ Ihle said. ‘‘Holy cow.’’