By Luke Johnson
A man fell into the trackway – about 30 feet in front of an oncoming train – and a BART employee immediately thought:
“Oh, he ain’t gonna make it.”
However, the employee got on his knees and reached over the trackway – putting himself in harm’s way. He then grabbed the fallen man and pulled him to safety with inches to spare. This all happened in a matter of three seconds. (See BART video)
The hero: John O’Connor, 55, a 28-year Antioch resident and former assistant football coach for the Antioch High School Panthers.
He was working at the Coliseum Station after the Oakland Raiders game Sunday, Nov. 3 to provide extra supervision for the overflowing postgame crowd – which was needed to say the least.
“That’s what I’m here for,” O’Connor said. “God was with us at that moment.”
“It seemed a lot slower than it actually happened (on video),” said O’Connor to the media. “He came to the side, I figured he wasn’t going to make it so I grabbed him and pulled him up to the platform. That’s what we do. We got foreworkers, train operators, station agents who deal with this on a daily basis. We preach safety, and we practice it.”
He added that it doesn’t sound right to be called a hero, because people in the military, police and fire department save lives all the time and he doesn’t believe he belongs in that category.
Although he may not identify as a hero, this Thursday the Raiders will honor him as one. The team will host him in front of the Thursday Night Football audience as this week’s “Hometown Hero.”
BART said the young man who stumbled onto the trackway was intoxicated.
After O’Connor pulled the young man to safety, he lifted him from the ground, embraced him with a hug and said, “It’s OK.” Meanwhile, other BART riders cheered for O’Connor for saving the young man’s life.
The moment was captured on video and posted to Twitter – which quickly went viral and can be seen, here.
The story has been all over the news and has even garnered national attention. O’Connor said if it weren’t for that video, many people would not have known what happened, and it would have become “just another good drinkin’ story.”
During a press conference, O’Connor stated, “A lot of times, people see us, and they don’t understand what we’re doing and what we’re going through but when something like this goes down, we rise to the occasion. Whether it’s the ’89 (Loma Prieta) Earthquake, the Giants World Series, you name it, BART’s been here for the Bay Area, and what we do is we try to get people where they need to be.”