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Man Is Killed While Saving Boy From Runaway Steamroller

September 19, 1994

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) _ A 69-year-old man was crushed by a runaway steamroller and died after pulling a boy off the machine.

The boy ran away before the ambulance arrived.

Roger Bardwell, a former district superintendent of education in Elk Grove Village, was sitting at a picnic table in a park near his home Saturday when two boys clambered onto a steamroller and started it up, authorities said.

As the machine rolled toward a street, one boy jumped to the ground, but the other couldn’t get off.

Bardwell pulled the boy to safety and then tried to stop the machine. The steamroller crushed his legs. He died on the way to the hospital.

″He was just there, running around the other side of the vehicle, where the other little kid was,″ said Gail Sanders, who had been sitting with Bardwell. ″It was the most heroic thing I had ever seen in my life. He couldn’t have thought about it. He just did it.″

The steamroller tore through a baseball backstop, crossed an intersection and mangled a parked car before it tumbled into a ditch, breaking a gas main.

Authorities were investigating whether a plate that normally covers the machine’s control panel to prevent it from being started up had been in place.

They were also trying to identify the boys, who ran off.

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