EAST NEW YORK – Five employees at the Long Island Rail Road had just wrapped up their job briefing for the day when they heard a loud thud. A man had fallen into the train tracks. They saved him.
Gregory Hartley, Kevin Rattigan, Larry Woods, Stacy Augustine, and Shelwyn Hend were at their job at the LIRR at East NY Station on Atlantic and East New York Avenues on Wednesday, October 21, around 7:30 a.m. when they realized a man had fallen into Track 2 at the east end of the eastbound platform.
One of the five employees quickly alerted the tower operator to stop trains from coming into that area. Two employees served as lookouts to make sure no train was approaching the station. And the other two worked to calm the man down until they felt it was safe for them to go down and get him up themselves.
“We heard a thud, turned around, and that’s when we noticed the gentleman down on the tracks, laying draped across the third rail protection board,” Hartley said. “It’s a scary situation, and he could have been electrocuted at any moment. At that point, our first reaction was to make sure we stopped any train that could come through.”
As they were attempting the rescue, the man lost his footing, and his shoe ended up getting stuck in between the rails. The employees went on to the track and untied the man’s shoelaces, got his foot out of the shoe, and safely got him up on the platform.
“This couldn’t have gone any better if we had practiced it,” Woods said. “I did what I could to help, the man was very disoriented, and I was nervous that he was going to touch that rail. I’m just glad we were all able to get out of there safely.”
On Thursday, October 22, all five employees were honored by LIRR President Phil Eng for quickly rescuing the man during the morning rush hour.
“Our employees always rise to the occasion, and this is a true example of the heroes who work among us,” Eng said. “Not only has the workforce stepped up, ensuring invaluable service in our fight against the pandemic, but the quick action by – Gregory, Kevin, Larry, Stacy, and Shelwyn saved a life. Not exactly verbatim from a well-known superhero, but in this case, it fits; Faster than a speeding locomotive! We cannot thank them enough.”