PILSEN — A University of Chicago grad student and other CTA riders jumped into action Tuesday to rescue a man who had fallen on the Pink Line tracks at the Damen Avenue stop.
Pilsen resident Trish Kahle was waiting for her train at the Damen Pink Line "L" stop at 10 a.m. Tuesday when she noticed a man on the tracks, many feet below her.
"He must have just fallen. He was on his back with his shoulder blades over one rail, his legs over the other," Kahle said. "He was just laying there unable to move, crying and screaming, 'I can't move. I don't want to die.' "
Then she noticed the Pink Line train pulling into the Western stop, about a half-mile from its next stop - Damen Avenue.
The 27-year-old Kahle moved swiftly, grabbing the chain lock off a stranger's bike on the platform.
"I climbed down and wrapped it around him. Then this other guy helped me get him off the track and then I climbed out, too," she said. "We were able to get him up in time."
Another person ran to the far end of the platform to try and wave down the train, and others ran to get the attention of CTA employees stationed at the stop's street level.
Stephanie Lulay says that Kahle does not want attention as a hero:
CTA employees came to the care of the man, and Kahle, now late to work from the rescue, got on the train and headed for her job in Hyde Park.
She said she left not knowing about the fallen man's condition.
"Thank God someone had a chain for locking up their bike. I don't think we could have pulled it off without that," she said. "It was all a little bit surreal."
The CTA confirmed a person fell on the tracks at the Damen Pink Line station about 10 a.m. Tuesday. No injuries were reported, and service was not affected, according to CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski.
"You learn to ignore it"
Kahle said it's scary to think about what could have happened if no one on the Pink Line platform heard the man's screams. It was a frigid 12 degrees at the Pilsen stop when the man fell, and most people were bundled up.
"There's so much [activity] on the 'L,' you learn to ignore it. A lot of people are on their headphones, or just drown out the 'crazy person' on the train platform," she said.
The Pilsen resident said it was amazing to see people who had never met working together on the platform to do all they could to help the stranger in need.
"Anyone else would have done the same thing," she said.
Kahle said an emergency system should be installed on all "L" platforms that riders can activate in case of an emergency.
"This was so unnecessarily dangerous," she said. "There should be an emergency signal anyone on the platform can trip."
Hosinski said the CTA strongly emphasizes the importance of being cautious when on train platforms. CTA riders should stand behind the blue tactile edging or at least 2 feet from the edge to avoid falling, slipping or possibly dropping something onto the tracks.
"Customers should immediately call 911 if they see someone fall onto the tracks," Hosinski said. The 911 call center will then notify CTA's Control Center to have power removed on the tracks.
"Customers should never enter the rail right of way for any reason," she said.
In April, an off-duty Transportation Security Administration worker jumped onto the Blue Line tracks to stop an oncoming train from hitting a woman. The rescue was captured on video by DNAinfo Radio News Director Jon Hansen.
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