Image: Minivan hit by train
A minivan was hit by a train in Elm Grove, Wisc., on Monday.
updated 5/25/2009 6:22:05 PM ET 2009-05-25T22:22:05

A freight train smashed into a minivan stuck on the tracks Monday as a police officer struggled to help a man pull his wife and child to safety.

They got the woman out but the 2-year-old boy was still inside when the 94-car train rammed the vehicle, crumpling the front and throwing the van into the two men. The child was unhurt, but both men suffered injuries, said Jim Gage, police chief in suburban Elm Grove.

He said the men were underoing surgery and he didn't know their conditions.

It was not clear why the van was stopped on the tracks, but it appeared the 40-year-old woman got caught in traffic, Gage said. The accident happened about 9:40 a.m., less than hour before the nearby start of the town's Memorial Day parade, which was canceled because of the accident.

The husband had been traveling behind the van in another vehicle with two other children and went to help his wife and child along with the officer, Gage said.

He identified the officer as John Krahn, 41, a 17-year veteran, but police withheld the names of the family involved.

A witness, Tim Weiner, told reporters that the officer was trying to save the child after helping get the mother.

"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."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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