(Fargo, North Dakota – November 26, 2013)
The driver of a large van and her load of at least 10 children and several adults participating in the Fargo, ND Holiday Lights Parade Tuesday evening undoubtedly owes her life, as well as those of her passengers, to an unidentified “Good Samaritan” who freed the trapped vehicle after the parade, proceeding across Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, stopped unexpectedly and stranded their vehicle in harm’s way as a train approached and crossing gates fell and entrapped the van.
Nancy Soyring, the van/float’s driver, told Valley News Live (KVLY-TV, NBC-affiliate Channel 11 in Grand Forks, ND) Reporter Regina Reese that “When we were crossing the train tracks, the floats ahead of us stopped and at that point the (crossing) lights started going on. I was just going to go forward and off to the side, and then the arm came down in front of me, and then I was going to back up and then the arm came down on the van.”
Meanwhile, watching in fear from the street was Soyring’s co-worker, Ashley Syvertsen, the mother of one of the children aboard the van/float. “We saw the train lights coming and I was just a nervous wreck. He (her son) was actually pushed out of the vehicle by one of the girls because she thought they were going to get hit,” Syvertsen recalled.
But, according to Ashley, “out of nowhere, I don’t know if he was a police officer or a parade volunteer, but he ran onto the tracks and lifter the arm and yelled for Nancy to reverse. She reversed, and the train went right by after that.”
Still shaken from the near-tragedy, Nancy said “This guy showed up – it was like all of a sudden – it was an angel from God that just appeared. Even one of my daughters said this was a great Jesus moment.”
The miraculous act of a person yet to be identified prevented what could have been a similar tragedy as occurred November 15, 2012, at a Midland, TX parade honoring American wounded war veterans. Four wounded warriors died and at least 15 others were seriously injured when a Union Pacific train plowed into a float at the Garfield Street crossing of UPRR tracks.
The potential victims of Tuesday’s near-tragedy are still looking for their Guardian Angel-like unsung hero, and so is Valley News Live, whose reporter pleaded that “If you’re out there tonight, please contact us!”
Shortly afterward, the mystery hero materialized in the person of Ryan Sherbrook, an emergency technician for EVAC, who was working the parade route as a volunteer. “I had seen the train arms actually going down, and ran over to see what was going on,” said Sherbrook. “That’s when I saw the van that was stuck in the train arm, and a lot of people inside the vehicle. The people in the van didn’t know what to do.” Sherbrook then picked up the arm, told the van driver to reverse, and “everyone got out of there, to everyone’s favor,” he told KVLY’s Andrea Larson.
The two grateful women, Soyring and Syvertsen, met – and thanked – their benefactor the next day in a televised ceremony at the TV station. “He’s definitely an angel,” confirmed Soyring.