“I’ve Got Tears in My Eyes. It Scares the Hell Out of Me to Think that I was that Close to Dying. I’m Scared Now. I’ve Never Been that Close to Dying Before”

On 19 September 2014, 59-year-old Michael Patrick nearly lost his life when his van stopped on the railroad tracks at Fillmore Street and West Dixie Highway in Hollywood, Florida. He said, “I was crossing the tracks heading east. My foot got caught between the gas and the brake. It just happened so quick. I tried to get my foot out and the steering wheel accidentally turned. I hit my head on the steering wheel and it dazed me.” He added, “I never saw the train.” Fortunately, Alejandro Escobar, age 44, of Hollywood, pulled Mr. Patrick from the van, and then Mr. Escobar and Jose Añez, a 43-year-old tourist from Venezuela, pulled Mr. Patrick to safety just before the train hit his van. Mr. Añez said through a translator, “The train was approaching, and I grabbed his arms and pulled him off the tracks, as the train hit the truck.” Mr. Añez had not intended to drive on that road. He said, “It’s incredible. We were heading somewhere else, and I said, ‘No, we’re going this way,’ and [my wife] and my mother-in-law were saying, ‘No. Why?’ And I was saying, ‘I wanted to go that way,’ and that’s when we saw the van by the railroad tracks.” Mr. Patrick said, “It lights me up to think that someone would do that, a total stranger.” Roni Añez, Mr. Añez’ oldest son, said, “My father is, for me and [Mr. Patrick], a hero. He’s better than Superman. He’s incredible.” Mr. Patrick said, “I’m thankful to be alive; that’s just the way it is. It’s a life-saving thing. It’s changed my life.” He added, “I used to be, not one of the nicest people you know? I am now, though.” Tina Lewis, Mr. Patrick’s daughter, said, “I just completely broke down [when I saw a photo of my father’s mangled van]. If people get stuck, you don’t have much time to get out.” Mr. Patrick said, “I’ve got tears in my eyes. It scares the hell out of me to think that I was that close to dying. I’m scared now. I’ve never been that close to dying before.”

For More Information: “Driver reunites with Good Samaritan who rescued him from oncoming train.” WSVN (Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Florida). 23 September 2014; updated 24 September 2014


For More Information: Emily Miller, “Man pulled from van ‘didn’t even know there was a train coming.’” Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida). 22 September 2014


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