New Yorkers think quick in 2007 By Pat Reber


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Friday January 5, 2007

By Pat Reber,
Washington- Quick-thinking New Yorkers gave the city an
amazing front seat on heroism in the first week of the new year,
snatching a falling toddler out of midair and jumping onto a subway
track to save another.
Wesley Autrey, 50, took the top prize for bravery, leaping onto a
film student who suffered a seizure and fell onto the tracks of the
New York metro system.

Autrey was at the 137th Street and Broadway subway station in
Manhattan on Tuesday with daughters Shuqui, 6, and Syshe, 4, when he
saw Cameron Hollopeter collapse onto the tracks in front of an
oncoming train.

After handing the children to an adult on the platform, the
construction worker jumped into the train well, pulled Hallopeter's
body inside the tracks and pressed it down with his own in the 33
centimetres or so of clearance room.

The bottom of the train grazed his hat, he later told reporters.

When the Number One train stopped, he yelled up: "We're OK down
here, but I've got two daughters up there. Let them know their
father's OK," New York media reported.

While Autrey was becoming the toast of town and country, making
guest appearances on talk shows on Thursday, a pair of childhood
friends was looking at a second-hand Honda in the Bronx, one thinking
of selling to the other.

Pedro Nevarez, 40, and Julio Gonzalez, 43, heard a scream, looked
up and saw three-year-old Timothy Addo hanging onto an iron fire
escape 13 metres in the air.

The two men tried racing up the stairs and into the apartment, but
the door was locked, and they couldn't grab hold of the fire escape,
The New York Times reported.

So they ran back into position with outstretched arms just in time
to catch the 19.5-kg toddler as he let go.

"He knocked me right out of my shoes," Nevarez was quoted as
saying.

Gonzalez said the child bounced off his friend and "fell into my
lap. He knocked my 'brother' down and he knocked me down. But we
caught him. He did not ever hit the floor."

The child had crawled out on the fire escape after the babysitter
had forgotten to close a window after smoking a cigarette.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the two rescues proved that New
York City was not an impersonal place where people don't care about
each other.

"This is a week of heroes here in New York," he said.

The heroes, however, were modest about their rescues.

Nevarez, who said he had one foster son, said he did "what any
other father would do."

"When you're a father, you would do this whether it's your child
or not," Gonzalez was quoted as saying.

Autrey received the city's top civic award - a bronze medal,
10,000 dollars from Donald Trump, a free trip to Disney World, and a
year's free pass for riding the subway.

Some onlookers thought Autrey should have gotten a lifetime free
pass on the New York metro system for what he did.

But never mind.

Autrey, a veteran of the US military, dismisses any idea that he's
a hero.

If you see something, do something, he says.

"I'm not looking at this like I'm the hero," Autrey said at the
presentation by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The real heroes are the
young women and men that are fighting in Iraq now."

"What I did was something that any and every New Yorker should do,
you know what I'm saying? You see somebody in distress, do the right
thing. You know? Help out," he said.

"We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our
freedoms," Autrey said. "We got to show each other some love."

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency