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NYC subway savior showered with gifts

AP Photo:
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."


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