Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Everyman to the rescue: The “Spider-Man” franchise is successful because Spidey is an Everyman. He could be you, or me, except for a chance accident. So, where Bruce Wayne is an obscenely wealthy man hellbent on vengeance, and Superman was born on another planet, Peter Parker just happened to get bitten by a research spider. And so the legend was born.

Another legend was born in New York City on Wednesday. Wesley Autrey helped save the life of a man who was having an epileptic seizure, by leaping onto the tracks after the man fell onto the tracks in front of a coming subway train. He pinned the man, Cameron Hollopeter, in the tiny drainage trough between the bottom of the car’s undercarriage and the tracks, between the wheels. They narrowly avoided the Third Rail, and not the metaphorical one, but the actual one that powers the train. What a hero. USA Today has a fantastic graphic depicting the rescue, and this harrowing account:

On Tuesday afternoon Autrey leaped down from a subway station platform after Cameron Hollopeter, 20, apparently suffered a seizure and fell between the tracks.

Autrey had to leave his two daughters, ages 4 and 6, on the platform. It was that, he said, or have the girls see a man run over by a subway train.

Down on the tracks, Autrey saw a train’s headlights in the tunnel. He shoved the disoriented student into the only space where they had a chance to survive — the shallow, grimy drainage trough between the tracks.

The train passed over them, with about 2 inches’ clearance. Autrey later showed reporters grease stains on his wool hat that he said came from the train’s undercarriage.

On Wednesday Autrey got the day off from work at a Brooklyn construction site and visited the New York Film Academy, where Hollopeter is a student.

“We don’t have a red carpet, but we gave him a red carpet reception,” said Anita Tovich, one of Hollopeter’s professors. Jerry Sherlock, director of the school, presented Autrey with a check for $5,000.


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