Wednesday morning, when Juan Manuel Alvarez allegedly parked his 1993
Jeep Cherokee on the train tracks near Chevy Chase Drive, causing the
three-train wreck that killed 11 people and injured nearly 200
But walking into the police department Thursday to visit with
Montenegro more than seven months after the crash, Hudson had one
goal in mind -- not to dwell on the events of that awful day, but to
thank him for staying with her at the crash site, and helping save
"It took me a while after I recovered," she said. "It took me a
few months. I just kind of wanted to forget about the train wreck."
Finally Hudson was ready to open her memory and her heart to
Montenegro, who comforted Hudson Jan. 26 as she lay in a passenger
car, among debris, with a broken neck and pelvis.
"Well, the day of the crash, I was just coming on duty when the
call came out," Montenegro said. "I ended up going to the Home Depot.
We had the fire department cut a hole in the fence for us, because we
could see the mayhem on the other side."
When Montenegro approached the passenger car Hudson was in,
another victim was running out and had told him there was a woman,
who could not move, inside.
The 18-year Glendale Police veteran waited with Hudson for more
than 20 minutes -- "but it seemed like forever," he said, until
firefighters and medics arrived to help.
But even after Hudson was rushed away to be treated, and
Montenegro had gone on to help other victims, he could not seem to
get her off his mind.
"After spending the time with her, I felt that I had a
responsibility to make sure she was OK," he said.
So a few days later, he visited her at Glendale Memorial Medical
Center, where she was being treated in the hospital's intensive care
"When he came to visit me, it was the day after, I think, I got
the tube out," Hudson said, of when her respirator was removed. "It
was a really good day that day."
Hudson was hospitalized five-and-a-half weeks, and even now, she
is not 100% recovered, she said.
But she is back to work and getting her life on track again,
And about two weeks ago, contacted the police department in hopes
that she would be able to reunite with that officer who stayed with
her the day of the crash and visited her at the hospital days later.
"The main thing was just to thank him, because it was a big help,"
she said. "I was awake [the day of the crash], but I was completely
panic-stricken and he came in the wreckage and helped me."
* TANIA CHATILA covers public safety and courts. She may be
reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at o7tania.chatila