Wesley Autrey, 50,
listens during a news conference
at City Hall in New York,…
By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press WriterThu Jan 4, 7:28 PM ET
A man’s daring rescue of a teen who fell on the subway tracks earned
him the unique title "the hero of Harlem" on Thursday, plus $10,000
from Donald Trump and a trip to Disney World.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg bestowed the title upon Wesley Autrey as he
presented him with the city’s highest award for civic achievement,
calling the 50-year-old construction worker "a great man — a man who
makes us all proud to be New Yorkers."
Past recipients of the Bronze Medallion have included Gen. Douglas
MacArthur, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Willie Mays. The
last honoree was Housing Authority employee Felix Vasquez, who caught a
baby thrown from a burning building in 2005.
On Tuesday, Autrey saw Cameron Hollopeter, a 19-year-old film
student, suffering a seizure while waiting for a train. 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, said something needed to be done and he thought: "I’m the only one to do it."
He jumped down to the tracks, a few feet below platform level, and
rolled with the young man into a drainage trough between the rails as
the southbound No. 1 train came into the 137th Street/City College
Some train cars passed over Autrey and Hollopeter with only a couple
of inches to spare, but neither man suffered any harm from the
incident. Hollopeter, hospitalized for his medical condition, was in
stable condition Thursday.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director Elliot
Sander called Autrey’s action "a death-defying act of bravery. We truly
have not seen anything like this. … He was at the right place at the
right time and did the right thing."
After the City Hall ceremony, a limousine whisked Autrey — who also
received a year’s worth of free subway rides — to a meeting with Trump,
who presented him with $10,000.
He also has received $2,500 from the New York Film Academy to start
a scholarship fund for his children, and tickets and a backstage tour
to the Broadway musical "The Lion King."
Autrey, who did the morning news show circuit on Thursday and taped
a David Letterman appearance later in the day, will be flown to Los
Angeles for an appearance next week on Ellen DeGeneres’ show.
As for his new celebrity, he concluded, "good things happen when you do good."