Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Dennis Codrington, who rescued a man after he onto the subway tracks, stands near the site of the incident on the Columbus Circle subway platform on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 in New York. Codrington doesn’t know what happened to the man he saved, but he hopes he survived and is healthy. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
NYC good Samaritans risk it all to save strangers
First Published Dec 07 2013 07:13 pm • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:04 pm

New York • A personal trainer jumps down onto the subway tracks to save an unconscious man as a train barrels down. A trucker stops to pull a driver from a burning car. A quick-thinking plumber uses his belt as a tourniquet to save a woman badly injured in a crash.

In New York City, which often has a keep-to-yourself, don’t-get-involved reputation, at least a dozen good Samaritans this past year were willing to risk their own safety to save a stranger.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"It’s the way I was brought up: Always look out for each other," said Dennis Codrington, the personal trainer who, along with two others, helped pull up a bleeding, unconscious man who had fallen onto the tracks of the No. 1 train late one February night.

Codrington was headed home from a party when he saw the 6-foot-tall man at the edge of the platform and then disappear. About 55 people are struck by New York subway trains and die every year, and the 24-year-old Codrington wasn’t going to let this guy be one of them.

So he and the two others jumped down to hoist the bleeding, heavy stranger up — as the time clock flashed that another train was due in the station in one minute.

"It was really nerve-racking," Codrington said. "But we couldn’t leave him there."

Miami emergency room doctor Ben Abo found himself in a similar dilemma at a New Jersey commuter train stop in Greenwich Village during his summer vacation to New York City. The 32-year-old was headed back to Jersey City, where he was staying, when a straphanger took an extra step and fell off the platform.

"He went down right over the edge. He was walking as if the platform was still there and wanted to take another step," Abo said.

The man fell head-first and lay on the tracks, bleeding heavily. Abo looked to see if a train was coming and jumped in, yelling for the two dozen people on the platform to pull a fire alarm and get help.

Sweating, he heaved the man up overhead, back onto the platform, as someone helped from above, and he then tried to pull himself back up, too.


story continues below
story continues below

He felt a gush of wind and saw headlights reflecting off the wall.

"I said to myself: ‘You have one chance to get up,’" he said.

He made it and set to work trying to stop the bleeding, while a crowd gathered around him — holding up smartphones to take video.

Psychologists say some people have the right mix of qualities it takes for risky heroic acts — altruism, courage, knowing the right thing and being reflexive about it, as well as the ability to inhibit fear that stops most people from getting involved.

"It’s not one hero gene. It’s a very complex set of characteristics that converge and that person is unique, and thank God for them," said psychologist Dr. Rachel Yehuda at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Ervin Straub, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, who has studied altruism extensively, said crowds in a big city can work against such heroism by creating a "diffusion of responsibility."

"When there are a bunch of people around, there is often a ‘Why me? Somebody else can do it,’" he said. "But if someone else developed a strong sense of responsibility, they are not likely to wait. By seeing the others’ passivity, their feeling of responsibility may kick in."

A gaggle of videotaping onlookers surrounded 44-year-old plumber David Justino this summer as he tried to stop a tourist from bleeding to death after an out-of-control taxi struck her, severing one leg and badly injuring the other. He used his belt as a tourniquet and poured bottled water over her severed limbs, which were gushing blood.

"I had no choice," he said. "I had to help her, someone had to."

Truck driver Alex Mitchell, 37, of Queens, was alone on the Long Island Expressway two months ago at about 1 a.m. when he saw a man in an SUV driving erratically, then crash into a tree. Mitchell pulled over and ran to the scene.

"There was a flickering of lights, and by the time I got there, it was a big ball of fire and smoke," he said. He reached the man, yanked him up and helped him away from the burning vehicle.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.