OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A Bay Area Rapid Transit worker spoke gave an emotional recounting of his quick action to pull a man who had fallen onto the trackway back onto the station platform as a train was about to hit him.
The incident happened at about 5:20 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum station. BART Transportation Supervisor John O’Connor was working at the station to help with crowd control following the Raiders game.
On Monday, BART release surveillance video of the incident, which shows a man apparently mis-stepping along the yellow safety strip as a train approached. O’Connor is seen immediately springing into action and yanking the man up by his shoulders and back onto the platform as a train just misses hitting him.
Video posted on Twitter showed the two men embracing moments after the incident.
— Tony Badilla (@TonyBadilla) November 4, 2019
“He was sitting right there and he put his hand out and that’s when I gave him a hug. I’m like, Dude, you almost didn’t make it,” O’Connor told KPIX 5.
BART Deputy General Manager Michael Jones introduced O’Connor at a press conference Monday, held at the same Coliseum station platform where the incident happened. on the platform of the Coliseum station.
O’Connor told reporters the surveillance video of the incident seemed a lot slower than it actually happened.
“The young man just walked, I saw out of the corner of my eye I saw him going in the trackway,” said O’Connor. “He came to the side, and I figured out he wasn’t going to make it. So I grabbed him, pulled him up on the platform.”
O’Connor noted that he was a train operator for 20 years, and he has seen his share of disturbing incidents.
“I’ve had people fall in front of my train or jump to get their hat or a lot of different scenarios. I mean, there’s a multitude of stories we can tell about it,” he said.
O’Connor acknowledged he was uncomfortable with the “hero” designation, and said safely moving people to their location is just what he and his colleagues do.
“I was fortunate that God put me there and he go to see another day. When I spoke to him later, I told him, ‘Hey, pay it forward,'” said O’Connor. “There was really no time to make a decision. I just looked, and it just happened. You know, when you look at police, fire, military, we’ve got heroes on a daily basis. It really feels awkward to be called a hero … ”
O’Connor let his voice trail off as he became emotional and composed himself.
“It’s what we’re supposed to do,” he continued. “You know, we’re all human beings. Life is precious, so thank God he gets to see another day. We both made it out, you know?”
BART officials said the man who fell onto the tracks was intoxicated and taken to a local hospital for his own safety to be checked out.
When asked if he realized how close the train was, O’Connor shook his head and said said, “No. I still would have done it. My mind was in slow motion.”
On Monday afternoon, BART riders were happy to get a chance to shake hands with a hero.
“That means a lot, ’cause there aren’t too many people who would do that, said Oakland resident Sheila Hale.