PARK RIDGE, Ill. (STMW) — A police officer is being lauded as a hero for pulling a suicidal man out of the path of a train Wednesday — just one day after another man was killed in the same area.
According to reports from the Park Ridge Police Department, officer Carlos Panizo ran onto the railroad tracks near the Metra station and pulled a 42-year-old Chicago man to safety after the man reportedly laid down as a train approached the station.
Officer Kristen Abbinante was driving near the intersection of Prospect and Summit avenues at 3:50 p.m. when she was flagged down by a woman who said a man was sitting on the nearby railroad tracks saying he wanted to “end it all,” police said.
When Abbinante arrived at the station, she requested all trains be stopped after she saw the man sitting on the center track. Panizo arrived at the same time and both officers attempted to talk to the man, but he reportedly stood up and told them to stay away. According to police reports, the man put his right arm into the thick parka he was wearing, said he had a gun, and yelled, “Shoot me!”
The officers briefly held the man at gunpoint as Panizo ordered him to show them his hands, reports stated. The man allegedly refused, repeatedly yelling at the officers to shoot him.
At that moment, police said, the railroad crossing signals began to sound as a Chicago-bound train approached, reports state. The man, seeing the train, reportedly laid down on the tracks and took his hand out of his coat — an action that led Panizo to quickly determine he did not have a gun.
According to police reports, Panizo ran onto the tracks, grabbed the man by his jacket and dragged him across the tracks to the Main Street side of the platform.
Both Panizo and Abbinante placed the man in handcuffs and a search revealed a wallet and a phone, but no gun or other weapon, reports state.
He was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge for a mental-health evaluation.
Deputy Police Chief David Keller said as much as the incident exemplifies the heroic response of a police officer, it is also another example of the mental-health issues that police must commonly deal with, including what he says is a disturbing national trend in “suicide by cop” cases where individuals use a weapon or the threat of a weapon to get a police officer to shoot and kill them.
“This is the kind of thing that his guy probably wanted us to do at first and when we didn’t (shoot him), he lay down on the tracks,” Keller said.
Just the day before, a 34-year-old Schaumburg man was killed when he was struck by an outbound express train just north of the Uptown Metra Station near Touhy Avenue during rush hour. Police have not formally stated whether this incident was a suicide; that ruling is pending the completion of an investigation which includes reviewing nearby surveillance camera footage, police said.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)