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January 04, 2007

Hero

You may want to break any NYT embargo for this. If not, I'll quote a bit.

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 train’s 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. “We’re O.K. down here,” he yelled, “but I’ve got two daughters up there. Let them know their father’s O.K.” He heard cries of wonder, and applause.

It's reassuring that many people, though not nearly all, have that unthinking instinct to put their own lives in danger to save another human's life.

The man who collapsed had a seizure. In a way, I think he's lucky to have had one. Surely he would not want to have been conscious through the terror of five subway cars thundering just above his head or, worse yet, being well-nigh smothered by a brown person.

I mean -- it's like pick your poison, right? Lady or the Tiger. Scylla or Charybdis. Rock or a hard place. Subway car or brown person.

A follow-up here, where the hero gets a hero's reception.



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posted by Ace at 04:34 PM

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