Aurora Township man who rescued driver stuck on train tracks wins another award for bravery – Chicago Tribune

Lewis Medina may not yet have his invitation to the White House.

Still.

But on May 11, he goes to the Chicago Hilton.

This is where the 60-year-old man from Aurora Township will receive the Lifesaving Rescue Hero Award from the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago for his actions on Oct. 9 that truly saved a life and truly made this humble guy a hero.

You may remember from previous headlines that Medina, a Geneva Construction street sweeper and much-loved family man, put his own life in danger when he rescued a disoriented driver whose car got stuck. on a train track near his home on Prairie Street as a freight train speeds towards them.

Weeks after the media became aware of this incredible act of bravery, Medina learned from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission that he had been nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal, North America’s highest honor for heroism. civilian, which would mean a trip to the White House should he be named the winner later this year.

Personally, I think he has a good chance because, as the 911 tape later made clear, Medina really risked his life to save a complete stranger in insulin shock on that fateful night. . And if anyone deserves the oft-overused hero description, it’s Medina who ignored that oncoming train to get the driver to safety seconds before impact.

“When someone is in need, I try to help,” he told me. “I couldn’t have left him there.”

Fortunately, this soft-spoken man of faith, who changed his life about a quarter of a century ago when he was in prison on serious drug charges and is now a volunteer prison chaplain himself, receives his share of accolades, including last year’s Citizen of the Year award. of the Kane County Sheriff’s Department.

“You know me, I’m a pretty quiet guy. I don’t like all this attention,” Medina said when I called about this impressive latest award and to check on how her life has changed since the hero chapter was added to her already colorful life story.

Turns out not that much. There were a few jokes about Superman from friends, but no job promotions or pay raises – “the union takes care of all that” – he tells me, laughing. But his obviously proud boss once aired a TV news video of his heroism at a security meeting, which made Medina “want to shrink into my seat…guys don’t don’t want to hear about that stuff,” he insisted.

I respectfully disagree.

At a time when social media likes matter more than character, we not only need to hear about acts of courage, but also celebrate and honor them.

Medina told me he “burst into tears” when the Red Cross informed him that he was recognized for the rescue on a freight train witnessed by his daughter Hannah who, he added, “is really proud of her dad”.

While Carnegie didn’t ask about his 25-year-old background in phone interviews with him, Medina said he had a good chat with the Red Cross during the vetting process, and was assured that it took nothing away from the man he is today.

All his life, Medina said, he felt like he had to prove himself and work harder to be accepted.

Yet when it came time to be a hero, there was no thought, only action.

“I don’t see any heroes,” insisted Medina. “I just saw myself.”

dcrosby@tribpub.com