Heroes Save Woman Whose Car Was Stuck on Train Tracks

The MARC tracks in Gaithersburg | Google Street View

A woman accidentally drove her car onto the train tracks in Gaithersburg, but the fast action of a group of brave quick thinkers got the woman to safety and her car off the tracks ahead of an oncoming locomotive.

Her saviors were residents of the Wells Robertson House, a commuter and Ray Roakes, a planner with the city.

The woman — no one got her name — said she was trying to turn into the MARC commuter parking lot. But it was wet and dark and she missed the entrance and went about 8 to 10 feet onto the tracks.

“The intersection is very busy, so I understand how this could happen,” said Raymond Roakes, a Gaithersburg city planner.

The whole incident occurred before 7 p.m. Jan. 24.

Roakes had left City Hall to grab a bite before the start of a Historic District Commission meeting, he said.

When he left, he saw the woman on the tracks, and a couple of bystanders.

In an email to MyMCMedia, Roakes said he called 911 to tell the trains that a car was on the tracks. Then he and one of the bystanders tried to push the car back onto Summit Avenue, but the car was stuck. They needed more help.

Then they got a fright: In the distance, they heard a train whistle.

At that point, Roakes said he helped the woman from the car, and everyone took cover. If that was the whistle to a CSX freight train, it could hit the car at full speed and the would-be rescuers could be hurt from the spray of debris.

“Luckily, the oncoming train was a northbound MARC train, which was already slowing to stop at the Gaithersburg station,” Roakes said.

The MARC train stopped, missing the car, and let off its passengers.

Roakes, one bystander (who lives at the Wells Robertson House, a shelter for homeless men and women who have undergone alcohol and drug treatment that sits along the tracks), a second Wells Robertson resident, a commuter from the train and a Maryland State Trooper pushed the car from the tracks.

“The whole thing probably lasted about 20 minutes or so,” Roakes said.

Roakes said after the incident, he headed back to City Hall for the Historic District Commission meeting, “adrenaline still pounding.”

“Thank goodness it was a MARC train and was already slowing to stop at the station anyway,” Roakes said.

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About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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