In a dramatic rescue, an off-duty TSA worker jumped onto the Blue Line tracks to stop an oncoming train from hitting a woman Wednesday at the Chicago Avenue stop.
The worker, wearing a bright orange jacket, jumped onto the inbound tracks and waved his arms to stop the train. The train stopped short of the underground platform and the woman was safely pulled back onto the platform by other commuters.
The incident was witnessed by DNAinfo Radio News Director Jon Hansen, who was waiting for the train on the platform.
Hansen videotaped the rescue and briefly interviewed the TSA worker before the man got on the next train. In a follow-up interview, the man identified himself as Eddie Palacios, 50, a father of two.
He said his TSA training kicked in, as did his need to help.
“It was really nothing. It was nothing, in the sense … I have to look myself in the mirror and I have to look at myself and feel good about myself,” Palacios told DNAinfo.
Palacios, a lifelong Chicagoan who grew up in Pilsen, said he quickly boarded a train and left the scene, and only quietly briefed his supervisor once he reached O’Hare Airport. But his co-workers soon found out.
“As long as I was feeling good that I did something, I didn’t think anybody needed to know,” he said. “Even when I went to work, people found out just recently, before I left, they said me, ‘How come you didn’t say anything?’ I said, ‘Well, the only person I have to answer to is my wife.’ She’s the only one I talk to and everybody else is secondary. Because I didn’t do it to brag about it or anything because there was nothing to brag. I was just worried about the person more than anyone else.”
His fellow commuters praised him on the scene.
“That man is really a hero,” said Rita Sattler, who grabbed the woman by her hair in an effort to get her off the tracks. “I don’t think I could have stood on the tracks.”
Palacios said he knew his orange University of Illinois jacket could make a difference.
“The young lady fell,” he said. “As soon as she fell, I jumped on top of the train [tracks] to make sure that they saw her because I have an orange shirt.”
The incident occurred at 11:03 a.m. The woman was taken by ambulance to St. Mary Hospital, CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said. Her condition was not immediately known.
The train was about 30 feet away from the platform when the woman went onto the tracks, prompting screams from fellow riders at the station.
Sattler said she saw the woman stagger onto the platform and she wondered if “she was impaired physically somehow.” Sattler also said the woman smelled of alcohol.
It was unclear if the woman fell or jumped onto the tracks. She could be heard telling another commuter, “I just slipped.”
After she was pulled from the platform, the woman sat on the platform briefly, bleeding from the head. Blood pooled on the ground before she got up and left the station. She was eventually stopped by CTA workers and taken away by ambulance.
Blue Line service was not interrupted following the incident, as the train that stopped to avoid the commuters soon started up again.