City worker a hero in rescue on rails

Published: November 10, 2006 | 5036th good news item since 2003

Cruz Caldero went to work Monday, a regular city worker. He went home a hero.

On the job shortly before 3 p.m., enforcing city codes in Newhall, Caldera came across a trailer that had detached from a pickup truck and was stuck in the train tracks near 13th Street. [Railway Disasters of the World: Principal Passenger Train Accidents of the 20Th Century]

Two women in the truck were trying desperately to pull the trailer off the tracks.

Caldera stopped to help, thinking it would be an easy job. His plan was to raise up the jacks and raise the trailer, but the pin attaching the trailer to the truck had come lose.

Caldera quickly called his office to notify the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Metrolink patrol.

At the same time, he worked to keep the two women calm.

That’s when bells signaled the oncoming commuter train.

Caldera hitched a chain used for emergencies to the trailer and the driver managed to pull it free from the tracks just 30 seconds before the train zoomed by, he said.

Not a big deal, he said Tuesday.

“I don’t think I did anything extraordinary,” Caldera said.

City Hall thinks otherwise and Caldera’s colleagues plan to honor him as a community hero at next Tuesday’s Santa Clarita City Council meeting.

“He’s the man,” said Dave Peterson, management analyst for community development and Caldera’s boss.

Caldera’s record on the job already was outstanding, Peterson said.

“The city doesn’t ever want to encourage employees to put themselves in harm’s way but he did that to save the lives of two people and all the people on the train,” Peterson said. [The Hero’s Code: A Handbook for Living with Freedom, Power and Compassion]

“He took a reasonable risk and came up with a creative, innovative solution to a big problem, and for that we salute him,” city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said.

For Caldera it was just a day on the job.

“I think anyone would have done what I did.”

Published in Heroes, Rescues
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