Editorial: Acts of heroism by everyday people don't happen every day but always warm our hearts

  • An Aurora man is alive thanks to a dramatic rescue by Lewis Medina, who pulled the 72-year-old from his car just before it was struck by a train.

    An Aurora man is alive thanks to a dramatic rescue by Lewis Medina, who pulled the 72-year-old from his car just before it was struck by a train. COURTESY OF THE KANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted10/15/2021 1:00 AM

Here are some comments that you may have read before in the Daily Herald but are worth considering again:

• From Griffin Rebecca, of Grayslake, in February 2021, after he saw a woman in distress on Route 120 near Mill Road and provided lifesaving aid while her dog attacked his legs: "I just believe I was positioned in the right place at the right time to help and was happy to do so."

 

• From Kyla Davis, of Skokie, after helping a woman fleeing an attacker enter her car and escape in August 2020: "Everything I did was just first instinct ... It was a very unfortunate incident that occurred, and I'm just happy I was there to help."

• From Vince Radlicz, seventh-grader at South Middle School in Arlington Heights, in July 2020, on his project using 3D printers to make hundreds of face shields after hearing about shortages at a local hospital: "The printer does most of the work. I'm grateful that we have the supplies to help everyone."

• And then there's this: Lewis Medina on Wednesday after pulling a 72-year-old man from his vehicle, which was stuck on railroad tracks near Medina's home in Sugar Grove Township seconds before it was hit by a freight train: "To be honest with you, I think that most people would have done this."

Would they?

We all probably wonder from time to time whether we would have the courage and mental clarity to jump in and help someone else in a life-or-death crisis. Fortunately, such situations are exceedingly rare, so we aren't likely to be tested. But isn't it reassuring to see so many times when everyday people are thrown into moments of crisis and step up to help without hesitation?

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Medina's case was particularly harrowing. He came upon an SUV Saturday night that had become stuck after turning onto railroad tracks crossing Barnes Road. Its wheels were spinning, and when Medina stopped to investigate, he found the driver experiencing a health emergency and barely responsive. He called 911, then looked up to see the lights of a freight train bearing down on them. He bear hugged the large man and managed to drag him out of the vehicle barely clear of the tracks just as the train smashed into the man's vehicle.

"I knew it was close, but I couldn't leave him on the tracks," Medina told our Rick West on Wednesday. "There was no way. I had to get him out."

The Daily Herald regularly carries stories under the banner "Suburban Heroes," which report the efforts of people who receive recognition for their lifesaving efforts in extraordinary circumstances. Like Rebecca, Davis, Radlicz and Medina, these award winners almost invariably insist that they did what anyone would do.

That's a prediction none of us can know for ourselves for sure until we're faced with the situation, but what we do know is that these individuals did step up, often risking their own safety or their very lives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Amid what sometimes seems like a never-ending stream of news about people hurting each other or engaging in various acts of crime or corruption, these stories remind us that the complaints and violence are the exceptions in human behavior. It is reassuring to realize that if we encounter a stranger in trouble, we too might well rise to the occasion with all our energies -- and that if we are ever in such trouble, someone else may be on hand to save the day.

And you can help us keep those stories flowing, too. When you know of such cases, send us an email at heroes@dailyherald.com.

Meanwhile, we all owe a hearty thank you to Griffin Rebecca, Kyla Davis, Vince Radlicz, Lewis Medina and the scores of men, women and children in circumstances like theirs. Their heroism not only saved lives, it also gave the rest of us a welcome glimpse of the better side of human nature.

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