- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MILWAUKEE — 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 not hurt, but both men suffered injuries, said Jim Gage, police chief in suburban Elm Grove.

He said the men were undergoing surgery, and he didn’t know their conditions.

It was not clear why the van was stopped on the tracks, but it appeared that the driver, Monica Ensley-Partenfelder, 40, got caught in traffic, Chief 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, Scott Partenfelder, 47, 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, Chief Gage said.

He identified the officer as John Krahn, 41, a 17-year veteran.

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,” Mr. 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.”

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