Saturday’s Asbury Park Press had a gripping report of the rescue of 27-year-old motorist Jennifer Saavedra after her car became stuck on the North Jersey Coast line rail tracks at Broad Street Friday night.
Mary Houghtaling of Brick said she was driving by on Newman Springs Road when she saw Saavedra’s car turn to cross the tracks.
“I knew the train was coming, and I saw her wheels spinning and thought to myself, my God, there’s somone in that car,” said Houghtaling. She said she pulled over and tried to get Saavedra to get out of her car, which was parallel to the tracks with the wheels below the rails.
“The door was stuck on the tracks, and I couldn’t get her to get out,” Houghtaling said. “That’s when the gates came down and the bells started ringing.”
Houghtaling said she called out to two bystanders to help her. Retired Essex County police chief Edward Palardy of Brick and another man who wished to remain anonymous were leaving a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts and ran to the track, Houghtaling said.
“This man came flying over and physically pulled her out of the car and we both went running back,” Houghtaling said. “After that, it couldn’t have been more than 30
seconds before the train hit. I had (Saavedra) face away from the train so she couldn’t see her car, and when she heard the crash her legs went out from under her and I couldn’t hold her up.”
New Jersey Transit spokesman Dan Stessel said none of the 100 passengers aboard the New York-bound train was injured, and that passengers were accommodated on another train after an hour’s delay.
Stessel said that New Jersey Transit Police are investigating how Saavedra’s car
became stuck, and said it was unclear whether her vehicle had broken down or if she had tried to cross the tracks after the gates had closed.
The incident occurred at about 9:25p, the Press reported. Saavedra lives in Toms River.