Mr. [Wesley] Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.
Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.
The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. I had to make a split decision, Mr. Autrey said.
So he made one, and leapt.
Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The trains brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time.
Five cars rolled overhead before the train stopped, the cars passing inches from his head, smudging his blue knit cap with grease. Mr. Autrey heard onlookers screams. Were O.K. down here, he yelled, but I’ve got two daughters up there. Let them know their fathers O.K. He heard cries of wonder, and applause.
Power was cut, and workers got them out. Mr. Hollopeter, a student at the New York Film Academy, was taken to St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center. He had only bumps and bruises, said his grandfather, Jeff Friedman. The police said it appeared that Mr. Hollopeter had suffered a seizure.
Mr. Autrey refused medical help, because, he said, nothing was wrong. He did visit Mr. Hollopeter in the hospital before heading to his night shift. I dont feel like I did something spectacular; I just saw someone who needed help, Mr. Autrey said. I did what I felt was right.
How many of you would have done what Mr. Autrey did? Would instinct have ruled your actions, or would you seriously consider things first.
Autrey had two daughters who were watching from the subway platform. This had the potential to scar them for life, yet, because it turned out well, it probably elevated their father to Superman status.
If Autrey hadn’t survived, do you think he still would have been considered a hero? What’s the difference between a hero and a fool? A pulse?