Lindy Thomas, the Barrington resident who was first to help said most people don’t know what they would do when faced with a life-or-death emergency.
“We have a fight or flight response. You don’t know exactly what you would do. You don’t know how you are wired,” Thomas said. He recalled that on Friday afternoon, March 15, most of the bystanders froze.
“I looked at the conductors and I looked at the kid and when I saw they weren’t helping, I snapped into action,” he said.
Thomas and his son, Riley, 14, were in the area because Riley needed a haircut. The barbershop was closed so they were heading north on Cook Street waiting for the train gates to go down. They didn’t witness Dominic getting hit by the Metra train, but it wasn’t long before they noticed something, what Thomas thought looked like laundry. Riley told him he thought it was a person.
As Thomas didn’t see anyone helping the person hit by the train, his fight response took over.
“I drove into the double yellow lines along the street the wrong way to get to him,” Thomas said.
Dominic was caught under the train and struggling, so the first thing Thomas did was to tell him not to move and try to calm him.
“When I realized it was a kid, I went to a new level. It was like saving your own kid,” Thomas said.
Although Thomas never had emergency training, he recalled a Cub Scout manual from the ‘70s, that had a picture of a child with a tourniquet and a blanket. He recalled that it was important to keep the victim warm to prevent thermal shock.
Thomas ran to the Salon Shea where he got towels from Trevor James who also helped Dominic. Thomas said he found a belt at the Salon, but doesn’t recall how he got it.
Thomas called 911 and returned to Dominic to place the belt tourniquet on his leg. James referred to Thomas an “an angel,” in his account of the incident.
Thomas held the tourniquet on Dominic’s leg until rescue workers arrived on the scene.
“It was horrific,” recalled Thomas.
News crews arrived, then Thomas gave a statement to the police and he and his son left, he said.
“We cried all the way home. It was a combination of the conductors not helping and it being a young kid. It was hard to push through it. I was really upset,” Thomas said.
Riley, a freshman at Barrington High School, said the experience was frightening. “Everyday on the news you see somebody died, but when you see something first hand it hits you. Your life could just end right now and you realize you have to live every day to the fullest.”
“A tragedy or a miracle could happen at any minute,” Thomas said. “Just don’t sit back and watch; take action. If a bunch of people take action, you can get something done.”
Thomas has spoken to Dominic’s parents and they have asked Thomas to visit him in the hospital. Dominic lost a foot and is undergoing various procedures.
For Thomas, this isn’t the first time his life has been changed by a train accident. He had two friends hit by trains. A childhood friend was hit by a train in Kenilworth in 1980 and died. In 1986, a friend, Jerry Vasilatos, now a filmmaker, was hit by a CTA train and saved by a Good Samaritan. Vasilatos lost his leg. CTA workers came under fire for not assisting Vasilatos at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune.