CHICAGO — When Maude Monson, a cosmetics manager at Bloomingdale's and former Marine, attempted to step on a southbound Red Line train at Addison last week, the unthinkable happened: Her leg slipped between the train car and platform, where it dangled as commuters frantically tried to help her.
“The first thing I thought is, ‘I am going to lose my leg,” Monson said. “My second thought is, ‘How am I going to get out of this? How is this going to end?’”
Monson, who lives in Wrigleyville, said she was going about her normal routine Wednesday morning when everything changed in a flash.
Supporting herself on her elbows after slipping, Monson said she feared the worst: She would be dragged along the tracks by the train, almost certainly losing her leg in the process.
“I have dealt with some pretty scary stuff in my life,” she said. “The thought of losing a limb to something that I have no control over was absolutely terrifying. I can understand losing a limb for your country, but losing a limb on the Red Line? I mean, no, no.”
That's when her military training kicked in.
She said she went into "survival mode" and began maneuvering her way from between the platform and the train. As she did this, she said one man grabbed her coffee mug and frantically waved at the train conductor while another held open the closing train doors. A third man offered her his seat on the crowded train after she'd wrangled herself free.
Once back on the train, she said she went into shock. As she tried to settle in to a normal workday, her co-workers could tell something was wrong, she said.
“My direct supervisor looked at me and said, ‘Are you OK?’ and I said, ‘No, not really.”
Although she sustained a large and painful bruise on her inner left thigh, she said the emotional toll it took on her the rest of the day was both evident to others, and surprising to herself. Her co-workers asked her several times if she wanted to leave for the day, which she at first refused. Yet as the day wore on, she said, the shock began to subside and the true terror and enormity of her experience began to set in.
"I just burst into tears," she said.
Monson said by sharing her story she hopes to hopefully catch the attention of the men who came to her aid so she can thank them — people whom Monson described as "selfless" and "absolutely amazing."
She also hopes to bring awareness to the dangers the gap between the train and platform can pose.
"Imagine if it was a small child? They could have fallen though," Monson said. "If I was a little girl, you know that gap is like 4 or 5 inches, so that's like really scary that it could happen to a child."
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