Chris Ihle of Ames, Iowa, at the crossing where he pushed a car off the tracks.

Everyday heroes: Quick action saves two lives

A mortgage consultant in Iowa made a split-second decision involving a stalled auto and a fast-moving train.

March 7, 2014

In some ways, July 31, 2013, was a typical day for Chris Ihle of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Yet people have asked him about the day’s events almost every day since.


While returning from lunch, he spotted an elderly couple’s car stalled on railroad tracks near his Ames, Iowa, office — and darted to push it off the tracks. Just in time, too, because a train was bearing down on the car.

“People have asked me why I did it, and I didn’t even know what I was doing — I was just reacting,” Chris says.

He then returned to work, and his actions were chronicled in a local newspaper and on TV news. Teammates offered congratulations. (He logged about a thousand emails from fellow team members all around the company during the next week or so.) But although his work life went back to normal pretty quickly, his personal life has been a whirlwind ever since.

He was bombarded with interview requests and ended up telling his story on the Steve Harvey Show, and to newspapers and magazines. “It’s very strange,” he says. “I had to call my mom and tell her that Women’s Health wanted to spotlight me as a single dad, so she wouldn’t be surprised.”

He also earned a “Heroes of the Heartland” award from the Red Cross, which will be awarded on March 14.

Chris admits that after being called “Superman” more than once, he got teased a bit when he later broke his finger playing baseball.

A Home Mortgage consultant, he spends his days helping customers purchase or refinance a home. “He truly cares about people,” says Kelly McCumber, manager of the Home Mortgage branch where Chris works. “He’s got a sense of confidence and awareness that you notice immediately and puts everyone at ease, whether it’s a customer or teammate. He never panics — even at work during challenging times.”

Chris, who enjoys spending time after work with his kids, says, “People at Wells Fargo tell me they are inspired by my actions. But I know that the people who called or emailed me would have done the same thing.”

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