911 Audio: 'I Was Just Following my GPS' and Got 'Very Stuck' on Train Tracks
Police accused a man of DUI last weekend after he drove his Mitsubishi Galant onto a set of train tracks near downtown Tinley and got stuck. Listen to the accompanying 911 call, during which he tells police "I'm just trying to behave here."
The train halted on the north railroad tracks likely because of the hazard, police said. Gary G. Schiffner, 43, was standing on the southern-most tracks in the 17400 block of Oak Park Avenue near his idle 1999 Mitsubishi Galant, which was facing westbound. Police said it was about 50 feet west of Oak Park Avenue.
Schiffner phoned in a 911 call at 12:42 a.m., police said.
"I'm in Joliet and my car is on the tracks," he tells the dispatcher, eventually saying he couldn't "steer out of my car" because "I'm too high."
CLICK THE IMAGE WITH THIS ARTICLE TO LISTEN TO THE 911 CALL
The dispatcher urges Schiffner to get to a "safe spot," especially if he's impaired.
When emergency vehicles finally located him after a six-minute phone conversation, he refused medical attention. Schiffner, of the 200 block of East Downer Place in Aurora, told police he was returning from watching a band play.
"I noticed that Gary was swaying side to side while speaking with me," the report said. "(He) was slurring his speech, his eyes were bloodshot and watery and there was an odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath when he spoke."
He failed field sobriety tests, according to the report. He was placed under arrest.
Officers waited for employees from Tinley Auto to tow the vehicle to their impound lot. But before they got there, police found four empty and two full 12-ounce Busch Light beer cans in the car, they said.
They were also approached by a witness outside Teehan's Irish Tavern who told them Schiffner hit a vehicle outside the bar before embarking on his off-roading adventure.
Schiffner blew a .280 on the Breathalyzer at the Tinley Park Police Department, the report said. He was charged with leaving the scene of a property damage accident, improper lane use/leaving the roadway, parking on railroad tracks, driving under the influence, driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 and illegal transportation of alcohol.
Tinley Park police Cmdr. Steve Vaccaro said although it isn't often that drunken drivers or pedestrians find their way to the tracks, it does happen.
"This is our third one in the last couple years," he said Thursday, noting that one such instance was close to where Schiffner was found and another was in the area of 183rd Street and 94th Avenue.
In these cases, Metra Police—or law enforcement officials from other railroad authorities, like Union Pacific—can opt to charge offenders separately.
"Our police have full police powers," Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. "It's more likely that if there is a ticket issued, it would be by the local municipality. They usually get there first."
He didn't know of any Metra charges filed against Schiffner, he said.
Gillis noted that Metra authorities would more likely be involved in a case that interrupts train service.
No one was hurt in Sunday's debacle, Vaccaro said. He wasn't sure how long Schiffner had been on the tracks before he dialed 911.
"The important thing is, we responded and took care of it before the situation escalated," he said.
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