A commuter fell in front of a train after a sporting event. What might have been a grisly story about train safety was instead an inspiring one about cheating death.
Leaving an Oakland Raiders game, someone fell off the platform and onto the tracks while a train was only moments away.
There wasn’t much time to react, but fortunately, one staffer was both close enough and alert enough to spring into action.
Transportation Supervisor John O’Connor, a 24-year BART employee, was helping usher fans to their trains last night when he says he saw the man fall onto the tracks.
O’Connor said he grabbed the man by the shoulders, lifted him up and rolled him onto the platform. He said an oncoming train was only about 60 feet away when he got the man up to safety. BART does not know if he went to the Raiders game, but he reportedly told other passengers he was trying get to Sacramento.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the man who fell underwent a medical evaluation. She said O’Connor is “very humble” but will talk Monday about what happened and how all frontline employees are trained to respond and react.
There’s more to the story. For one thing, he wouldn’t merely call it ‘fortunate’. He acknowledges the hand of divine providence.
The rescued man was on his phone and ventured too close to the tracks before falling in.
At the time, O’Connor was making sure passengers stayed away from the yellow safety strip when a man holding a cell phone suddenly ventured too close to the edge and fell onto the tracks — just as the southbound train was approaching the station.
“I just looked and was like, he’s not going to make it,” O’Connor told reporters Monday. “So I’ve got to do something. There wasn’t a lot of time to think.”
…Surveillance footage released by the transit agency shows O’Connor, a BART employee for 24 years, reaching down and pulling the unidentified man out, just before the train would have crushed him.
“In my mind, it all went down in slow-motion,” he said. “I just grabbed him and pulled him out.”
The BART supervisor said he wasn’t sure where he found the physical strength to pull the man out, saying he didn’t feel “heavy at the moment.” When O’Connor got the man back on the platform, a passenger on the platform took a video later posted to Twitter that showed the two men embracing.
Nice to see some stories still have a happy ending, isn’t it?
“I’m just fortunate that God put me there,” O’Connor said. “And he got to see another day. And when I spoke with him later, I said, ‘Hey, just pay it forward.,”BART leaders and passengers hailed O’Connor’s actions as nothing short of heroic.
“The BART supervisor – his actions were remarkable – the way he stepped in and saved that man’s life,” Delonzo Starks told the Associated Press on Monday outside the station where the rescue occurred. “It would have been horrible for that to happen, just in front of all the witnesses. So it’s just a blessing that the BART supervisor was there.”
But the transit supervisor said he feels “awkward” being called a hero, and that he just did “what we are supposed to do.”
“I’d like to think that anybody else in there would have done the same thing. God put me there for a reason, right?” he said Monday. “He got to go home. Hopefully, he cures cancer or something. He seemed to be a young man, got a lot of life ahead of him. Hopefully, it’s a good one.”
That’s one lucky guy who gets to look over his shoulder at certain death and whisper ‘not today’.
Events like that can have a way of shocking people into putting their life into perspective, making them focus their efforts on the things that really matter.
They prompt the kind of questions that can really reframe and define a person’s life.
Supposing YOU were to cheat death tomorrow afternoon, what would YOU do differently as someone ‘living on borrowed time’?
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