HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Disaster was looming large — a train was hurtling down the tracks toward a car with a woman inside — so passer-by Aeric Moskowitz sprang into action.
Moskovitz ran up to the beige Infiniti stuck on the tracks, banged on its window and shouted, "Get out of the car! There's a train coming!"
The good Samaritan got the Infiniti's sole occupant, Madelyne Steinberg, 63, out to safety in the nick of time Wednesday. Soon after, the train rammed the Infiniti from behind and shoved it about a quarter-mile down the tracks, leaving it a mangled mess.
Only later did Steinberg grow hysterical, when she realized the peril she was in, Moskovitz recalled Thursday. "She hugged me and said, 'You saved my life,' " Moskovitz said.
Steinberg, of Hallandale Beach, couldn't be reached for comment despite a phone message left at a listed number.
Wednesday's crash happened past 9 p.m. just southwest of Interstate 95 and Hollywood Boulevard, according to Hollywood police Lt. Forrest Jeffries. Steinberg inadvertently turned from Hollywood Boulevard onto the railroad tracks, Jeffries said.
The incident remains under investigation, and Steinberg wasn't cited, Jeffries said. No one was hurt.
According to Moskovitz, who later spoke to the driver, Steinberg was eastbound on Hollywood Boulevard and had intended to turn onto an I-95 ramp. But he said she was startled by a motorist honking behind her, panicked and headed the wrong way: onto the railway.
Moskovitz, 46, who several months ago moved from Hallandale Beach to Lake Worth, had wrapped up his work shift at Best Buy and was commuting home, he said.
He was taking the bus toward the nearby Tri-Rail station, and from his bus seat, he peered out the window to check if his ride home, a northbound Tri-Rail train, was approaching, he said.
Instead, he saw the Infiniti stopped on the tracks just south of Hollywood Boulevard, he said. Moskovitz stepped out of the bus and ran toward the car. When Moskovitz approached Steinberg's car, she was in the driver's seat, facing away from the train approaching in the distance, he said.
Steinberg was on her cellphone, telling her husband of her car being stuck on the tracks. He "was telling her to also get out of the car," Moskovitz said.
By then, police had arrived and an officer used a flashlight to warn the train operator, who hit the emergency brakes, Moskovitz said. Still, the brakes didn't immediately halt the train: It was coming "too fast and too loud," he said.
Unlike the movies, no dramatic soundtrack music kicked in when Moskovitz and Steinberg were rushing out of the train's path, Moskovitz said.
"It's not like it happens in the movies," he said.
Staff Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.