Headed to the Elm Grove Memorial Day parade in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Monica Ensley-Partenfelder found herself and her 2-year-old son directly in the path of a 94-car freight train barreling toward them, whistle blaring.
What should have been a festive start to the holiday instead turned into a frantic effort to save the woman and boy in the moments before the train struck their minivan head-on about 9:30 a.m. Monday.
A police officer, John Krahn, 41, assigned the routine duty of parade traffic control, sprinted to the scene and freed 40-year-old Ensley-Partenfelder, of West Allis. Her husband, Scott Partenfelder, 47, who was stuck in traffic in a different vehicle nearby on Juneau Blvd., tried to unhook the 2-year-old from a car seat.
He couldn't get him out.
The force of the impact created an explosive effect, hurtling the minivan across the grass - crushed and collapsed. Much of the driver's side was gone.
The 2-year-old in the car seat was brought out, miraculously, uninjured.
This might be a good story to share with those teen-age drivers you know, eh?