Teen hailed as hero for saving elderly man stuck on railroad tracks

Earl Moorman, 75, and Ashley Aldridge, 19.

CBS affiliate WHBF

CHATHAM, Ill. -- A young mother has been hailed a hero after she rescued a man in a wheelchair from an oncoming train in central Illinois.

Last week, 75-year-old Earl Moorman's motorized wheelchair became stuck on railroad tracks near Ashley Aldridge's home in Auburn. Aldridge, 19, heard him screaming and ran out the door as she heard the train blast its horn.

"The young girl heard me," said Moorman to CBS affiliate WHBH. "She came over and by the time she did the gates started coming down."

She reached him just in time, struggling at first but finally pulling Moorman from the wheelchair and carrying him to safety.

"I look up, and the train's literally right there, and I did it one more time, and somehow managed to lift him up just far enough so we could tilt the wheelchair backwards," Aldridge told CBS Radio affiliate WBBM. "As I'm pulling him back, the train knocked his wheelchair right out."

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Ashley Aldridge, 19, and Earl Moorman, 75, had never met each other before Ashley rescued him.
CBS affiliate WHBF

Police later told Aldridge that the Amtrak train was speeding through town at 81 mph.

The wheelchair was destroyed.

Moorman called Aldridge -- whom he had never met before -- his "guardian angel."

Aldridge, the mother of two toddlers, was honored Monday as a "Hometown Hero" with a supermarket shopping spree in nearby Chatham, some 210 miles southwest of Chicago.

"I'm pretty excited because we haven't been able to buy a whole bunch of food for the kids," Aldridge said at Chatham Country Market, where she grabbed $187 in free food in three minutes. "I'm glad I can finally make them real food and not macaroni and cheese all the time."

The shopping spree and other donations -- free Amtrak tickets and an honorary black belt from a local martial arts school -- come at a good time for Aldridge's family. Before the rescue, someone broke into their home and stole money meant for bills.