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Good karma for a pickup truck driver: Motorist helps save an endangered Green Line rider from serious injury

It was chicken soup for the sustainable transportation reporter's soul to hear of a quick-thinking motorist protecting a CTA user from grievous harm.

Image: CBS Chicago

This post is sponsored by Boulevard Bikes.

Update Monday 2/26/24, 4:00 PM: The day after the rescue, the Chicago Sun-Times identified the pickup truck driver and passenger as Marcella Lockett and Chiquita Martin and interviewed them about the experience. Today the paper ran an op-ed praising them for their rapid response.

In the last two weeks there have been at least two tragic cases of pickup truck drivers striking and killing non-drivers in Chicagoland:

• A hit-and-run pickup driver ran a red and fatally struck pedestrian Jiekun Xu, 68, on February 8 at 44th/Pulaski in Chicago's Archer Heights neighborhood.

• The driver of pickup with a high front grill fatally struck bike rider Allen Beyderman, 41, on February 13 in the 1900 block of Golf Road in Des Plaines.

So this morning it was wonderful to hear about a quick-thinking pickup truck driver helping prevent a transit rider from being seriously, perhaps fatally, injured. This incident took place last night in Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood.

According to the initial CPD report, around 8:40 p.m. a woman, 35, attempted to open the door of a moving Green Line train just east of the Kedzie Avenue station, on the Lake Street 'L' tracks. She accidentally fell out of the rail car onto the elevated tracks. The woman "then fell another 15-20 feet onto the bed of a pickup truck [whose driver had positioned it] underneath," the report stated. The CTA rider suffered a broken left leg and was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital in good condition.

Obviously it was fortunate that the woman didn't fall directly from the tracks to the street, let alone get electrocuted by the third rail. Sadly, that happened to two young people last August at the Green Line's Ridgeland station in Oak Park.

But how exactly did this mind-blowing, but miraculous, situation near the Kedzie stop take place? The Sun-Times reported that, according to police, the "passenger wanted to make her stop [at Kedzie after the eastbound train left the station] so she pulled the manual door release of a moving train and fell onto the tracks."

"She was hanging [onto the tracks] for like a minute," a witness told CBS Chicago. "She was like, 'I missed my stop! I missed my stop!' Why didn't you just get off at the next stop?"

"A good Samaritan who saw [the] woman... plunge to the elevated tracks stepped in to help her," the Sun-Times reported. "[The driver pulled their] pickup truck underneath the tracks."

"[The driver] was telling her 'Jump,' and I'm like, 'No, don't make her jump,'" the other witness told CBS. "[The driver] was like, 'She's gonna fall.' [The driver] just pulled the truck up, and she just fell in the back of the hatch."

"An officer at the scene could be heard on police scanner traffic explaining to an astounded colleague that after hanging from the tracks she then tumbled into the bed of a pickup truck," WBBM Newsradio reported.

Harold Lloyd in the 1923 silent film "Safety Last!" Image: Wikipedia

So there you have it: Thanks to a thoughtful motorist, a transit user escaped from a terrifying Harold Lloyd-like cliffhanger without life-changing injuries. I see a few takeaways here:

• Do not force open 'L' doors except in the case of a genuine emergency, or you may create one.

• Some transportation modes (like driving pickup trucks) have exponentially more potential to harm bystanders than others (like riding transit). But everybody has the ability to behave carelessly or considerately when traveling, regardless of what kind of vehicle they're using.

• We can file the relatively happy ending to this incident under the old saying, "The Lord takes care of fools and babies." The former is certainly a position most of us have been in before!

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