MILWAUKEE - A freight train smashed into a minivan stalled on the tracks Monday as a police officer scrambled to help a man pull his wife and two children to safety. An infant still inside when the train hit escaped harm, but the two men suffered injuries.
It was not clear why the van got stuck in suburban Elm Grove, not long before the town's Memorial Day parade was to start nearby, police Chief Jim Gage said. The parade was cancelled.
The chief said the officer ran to the stuck van to help a man struggling to get his family out as the train bore down. The man had been travelling behind the van in another vehicle, Gage said.
He said the officer and man were able to get the wife and two toddlers out but an infant was still in a car seat when the train struck. The impact crumpled the van's front and knocked the vehicle into the two men, but Gage said their injuries were not believed to be life threatening.
He declined to identify the people involved.
A witness, Tim Weiner, told reporters that the officer was trying to save the third child after helping get the mother and two other toddlers to safety.
''He was reaching in the back when the train hit the car,'' Weiner said. ''He was trying to get the child out. It was unbelievable. This guy is a hero. ... He didn't have to risk his life.''