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NY subway `angel' has no regrets

January 04, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — In hindsight, jumping in front of an oncoming subway train may not have been the smartest move Wesley Autrey has ever made.

"It's all hitting me now," Autrey said Wednesday, a day after he saved the life of a young man who had fallen down onto the tracks by pushing him into a gap between the rails. "I'm looking, and these trains are coming in now.... 'Wow, you did something pretty stupid.' "

But even knowing that he had a narrow escape from injury or death, the 50-year-old Manhattanite doesn't regret his choice.

"I did something to save someone's life," Autrey said.

The father of three was praised Wednesday for his quick thinking and even quicker reflexes. Waiting for a downtown train Tuesday, he saw Cameron Hollopeter, a 20-year-old film student, suffering a seizure. After stumbling down the platform, Hollopeter, of Littleton, Mass., fell onto the tracks with a train on its way into the station.

Autrey, traveling with his two young daughters, knew he had to do something. He jumped down to the tracks and rolled with the young man into the trough between the rails as a southbound No. 1 train came into the station.

The trough, used for drainage, is typically about 12 inches deep but can be as shallow as 8 or as deep as 24.

The train's operator saw someone on the tracks and applied the emergency brakes. Before the train came to a stop, two cars passed over the men -- with about 2 inches to spare, Autrey said.

Autrey said he called out from under the train. "I said, 'There are two little girls up there,' " referring to his daughters Shuqui, 6, and Syshe, 4. " 'Let them know their daddy is OK.' "

Hollopeter's stepmother, Rachel Hollopeter, said Autrey was "an angel."

"He was so heroic," she said in a telephone interview. "If he wasn't there, this would be a whole different call."

Hallopeter was treated at a hospital for the seizure and minor injuries.

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