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'They were scared and confused' | Volunteer saves car full of people stuck on train tracks

A local volunteer was just wrapping up his shift at the Georgia World Congress Center and helped get them all to safety.

ATLANTA — A celebration Downtown almost turned tragic when a car load of Atlanta Hawks fans got stuck on the railroad tracks outside the arena. Thankfully, a local volunteer was just wrapping up his shift at the Georgia World Congress Center and helped get them all to safety.

Rodney Daniel is used to being behind the scenes. He's the production manager at the Georgia Festival of Trees, but just after opening day when he wrapped up here, he knew he had to jump back in to action.

"To see the joy on the kids faces, the smiles that they have, all the Christmas trees, it's amazing, it gets you in the Christmas spirit," he said. 

The event benefits Wellspring Living, a nonprofit that helps the victims of domestic sex trafficking. After he wrapped up the stage Saturday night, he heard a train coming around the corner of the Georgia World Congress Center and saw a car stuck on the tracks.

"And all I hear is, 'we gotta move the car, we gotta move the car!' And I said, 'hey guys, we gotta stop that train first,'" he said. 

Daniel said he used his cellphone flashlight to signal to the conductor to stop and got the girls out of the way of the train.

Credit: WXIA
Rodney Daniel

"When the car went across the tracks, the one wheel was free spinning, so it was, the car was wedged on the train track. So, I was able to get a rock and prop it under the tire, and we were able to get the car to back off of it," he said. 

He said he's grateful the conductor could stop the train in time, and that everyone escaped unharmed.

"They were very thankful. The young ladies, they weren't from this area, so they were scared and confused, they were really terrified. Because it was an oncoming train and the car is stuck on the tracks," he said. 

The festival's executive director said she's not at all surprised that Daniel jumped in to help.

"Rodney is an amazing human. He will do anything for anyone," said Angie Ulibarri.

He said that's what Christmas is all about.

"You have to be a blessing to get a blessing. So that's where I was at in that moment. It wasn't, I want to be a hero and save lives. It was, these girls needed help," he said. 

Anyone who wants to see the Festival of Trees, it'll be at the Georgia World Congress Center through Nov. 27.


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