Updated 1/27/2011 at 4:15 p.m.
CHESTERTON, Ind. (CBS) — Three men saved a woman from likely death Wednesday by pulling her from a car stopped in the path of an oncoming freight train.
Later, they didn’t think they had done anything special. The train was about 30 seconds from impact when the trio rushed to save Courtney Althoff, who had driven onto the tracks.
“It was just like it happens in an action movie,” Jeffress told CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli.
The 27-year-old from Valparaiso, Ind. was driving south on Calumet Road around 3 a.m. Wednesday with two friends when they came across a champagne-colored Honda Accord sitting in the middle of the road, near Northside Diner and in front of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.
Althoff, 24, was driving down the tracks as if they were road when the vehicle stalled, Chesterton Police Capt. George Nelson said.
“I said this lady is going to die, something has to be done,” Jeffress, of Valparaiso, Ind., said.
One of his friends, Dustin Paliga of Chesteron, dashed to the rescue.
“I told her, ‘You need to get out of the car,’ so I pulled her out of the car,” Paliga said.
Paliga forced Althoff to the ground. His friends soon joined and helped hold her down as she struggled to go back and get her purse. In less than a minute, the train plowed into the car. The impact caused the car to explode and catch fire.
The force of the impact was so tremendous the car was broken into tiny pieces.
The freight train, pulling 14 cars, pushed the 2002 Honda another 183 feet down the track, stopping with the car lodged partially under the train. Both burned for another 20 to 30 minutes until fire crews could put out the fire, Jeffress said.
No one on the train was injured.
Police arrested Althoff, who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.25 percent, on a drunken driving charge.
Althoff asked police for the phone numbers of the three men who saved her so she could personally thank them.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire