According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a “hero” is a “person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.”
There is a genuine hero residing right here in the little village of Lodi. Sam Huffman is just 20 years old, but fellow Lodian and octogenarian Marguerite Jones is alive because of his selfless courage.
Jones, who utilizes a wheelchair, was en route to a party this past Saturday night. As she crossed the railroad tracks that bisect Lodi to get to what folks here refer to as the “east side,” the wheels became entangled in the rail, leaving her trapped in the path of an oncoming train traveling at an estimated 40 miles per hour.
By the time Huffman, who had heeded a stop sign at the adjacent intersection, heard the train approaching, the crossing arms were down, the warning lights flashing, and the bells ringing. He glanced in his rear view mirror, saw Jones, and took action: He threw his truck into reverse and sped to Jones’ side, jumped out of his truck, and pulled her out of the wheelchair.
“I probably got three steps away (from the tracks) before (the train) hit her wheelchair,” Huffman said.
Lodi Police estimate that the train missed Jones and Huffman by a mere three feet.
In fact, the engineer stopped the train after it struck and destroyed Jones’ wheelchair, thinking that the locomotive had, in fact, hit Jones and Huffman.
Downplaying his remarkable act of courage, Huffman told KXTV News that he reacted, but only realized what he’d done later. “I’m just really glad I got the opportunity to save a life. Because not everybody gets that opportunity.”
Jones, who suffered no injuries, was shaken, but convinced that Huffman was an angel sent by God to rescue her. “He put him here so he could pull me off the tracks,” she said.
It was inspiring to pick up the Lodi News-Sentinel this morning and, in the midst of reports about escalating gas prices, the sputtering economy, California’s ongoing fiscal crisis, and various natural disasters, find this story about Huffman’s bravery. There is indeed a hero “stuck in Lodi.”