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Joe
03-04-2004, 10:24 PM
Woman gets new scooter; rescuer gets award
(The following article by Brett McNeil was posted on the Chicago Tribune website on March 4.)

CHICAGO -- A 65-year-old woman whose motorized scooter was crushed by an Amtrak train Tuesday only seconds after a stranger pulled her from the tracks has received a new set of wheels, and the man who rushed to help her will be honored by Downers Grove police as a lifesaver.

"I was worried. What was I going to do without my scooter?" said Rosetta Wiedemann, who suffers from diabetes and is unable to walk long distances.

After learning about her rescue from news reports, officials from Broadview-based health-care company DependiCare gave Wiedemann a new champagne-colored scooter worth $3,500 Wednesday.

"This one's a Cadillac; the other one was a Chevy," Wiedemann said Wednesday as she test-drove the machine at her home in a Downers Grove senior citizens building.

Wiedemann said she relied on her scooter for many years to run errands in downtown Downers Grove. In fact, she was going for a loaf of bread about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday when she got stuck on the tracks at a railroad crossing along Main Street.

A front wheel got caught moments before the crossing gates went down to let the train through. Two days out of Los Angeles, Amtrak's Southwest Chief was traveling at speeds up to 70 m.p.h. as it headed for Chicago's Union Station with about 163 people onboard.

With the train closing in, Thomas Rutecki, 55, of Lockport, rushed to help. Unable to free the scooter, he spirited Wiedemann off the tracks just before the train slammed into it.

Downers Grove police on Wednesday announced they will honor Rutecki, who regularly catches a train to work from the Main Street station, with a departmental lifesaving award. The commendation will be presented at a March 25 ceremony.

Despite a flood of attention, including calls from television news producers as far away as New York, Rutecki remained humble about his heroics.

"I'm grateful for [the award] but I don't think they have to do it," he said Wednesday. "A hero to me is a guy who runs into a burning building to save some kids, or the firefighters from 9/11."

"This was just a spur-of-the-moment thing," he said.


Thursday, March 04, 2004


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