Photographs of a man trying to escape from the path of a New York subway train have many asking why bystanders didn’t help him. A man with experience in such a rescue says very little a person does in a situation like that is well thought out.
“The first thoughts you have are blurred and the entire situation is so hard to process that you’re sort of not in control,” says New York actor Chad Lindsey who pulled a man from the tracks at Penn Station in 2009.
Lindsey jumped into action when he saw the man stumble and fall head first onto the tracks. He tells Ross and Burbank he could see the fall was unintentional and his first instinct was just to jump in after the guy.
“Apparently my legs have a fight mechanism rather than a flight one,” says Lindsey.
In his experience, the train wasn’t in sight when the man fell. Had things been different, he’s not sure what he would have done.
“If the train was already in sight, then I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near it probably. It’s very hard to say.”
He finds it difficult to cast blame on the bystanders because he doesn’t know what was going on in this case, and when it happened to him, he says his body took over. There are portions of the event he doesn’t even remember, like dropping his backpack to the ground before jumping down to the man’s aid.
“You’re operating at an animal level. Your body is doing things out of self preservation that your mind doesn’t even have time to process,” says Lindsey. “People don’t understand how fast the trains move and they don’t understand how a big object coming at you affects you at a level you’re not fully in control of.”
Lindsey was able to pull the man safely onto the platform with a couple of other people that came over to help. But even as brave as he proved to be, he thinks he too has limits as to how much he could intervene, citing the case of another subway rescuer Wesley Autrey.
“Wesley Autrey, who predates me in the strange and wonderful echelon of subway heroes, got down on top of the guy in the narrow bed between the tracks and let the train go over. I find that insane,” says Lindsey. “I would be terrified completely to do that.”
A big part of what he took from his incident, obviously aside from preventing the tragedy in the loss of the man’s life, was seeing what he was made of.
“One of the most interesting things about this entire experience for me was finding that out, finding out what you would do if this happens,” says Lindsey.
In agreeing to speak of his own experience, he did want to make sure that people remember the real issue in this case, that someone lost their life on Monday.
“Someone died here, this is a somber issue,” says Lindsey. “We have to look into these things and we have to look at ourselves through this.”
A suspect was arrested Wednesday in the death of Ki-Suck Han who was pushed onto the tracks and photographed just before a train struck him.
Naeem Davis, 30, was taken into custody for questioning Tuesday after security video showed a man fitting the suspect’s description working with street vendors near Rockefeller Center. Police said Davis made statements implicating himself in Ki-Suck Han’s death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.