Subway hero enjoys his 15 minutes of fame
Story Highlights•Teen identified as New York Film Academy student
•Rescuer, teen lay in trough as train rode over them
•Two inches separated the men from train
•Rescuer refused medical attention; young man in stable condition
NEW YORK (AP) -- It took only an instant for Wesley Autrey to decide to jump into a subway track to rescue a stranger from an oncoming train.
In hindsight, even he is somewhat startled by his dramatic decision, Autrey said Wednesday.
But knowing he narrowly escaped injury or possibly death, the 50-year-old Harlem construction worker doesn't regret his choice.
"I did something to save someone's life," he said. (Watch Autrey demonstrate the rescue)
The father of three has found himself the object of public attention since Tuesday, when he saved a young man who had fallen onto the subway tracks by pushing him into a gap between the rails.
Autrey planned to make the rounds of the morning television shows on Thursday, tape an appearance on David Letterman's CBS "Late Show" and visit City Hall to be honored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, Autrey said the impact of the risky rescue was sinking in.
"It's all hitting me now," Autrey said. "I'm looking, and these trains are coming in now. ... Wow, you did something pretty stupid."
While waiting for a downtown Manhattan train, Autrey saw Cameron Hollopeter, a 19-year-old film student, suffering from some kind of medical episode. 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, knew he had to do something.
"If I let him stay there by himself, he's going to be dismembered," the Navy veteran remembered thinking.
He jumped down to the tracks, a few feet below platform level, and rolled with the young man into a drainage trough -- cold, wet and more than a little unpleasant smelling -- between the rails as the southbound No. 1 train came into the 137th Street/City College station.
The train's operator saw someone on the tracks and put the emergency brakes on. 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 was taken to a nearby hospital; Autrey refused medical attention -- and then went to work.
Autrey went by the hospital Wednesday afternoon for a visit with Hollopeter and his family. Afterward, he and Hollopeter's father addressed reporters.
"Mr. Autrey's instinctive and unselfish act saved our son's life," said Larry Hollopeter, his voice choking up.
Following the incident, calls came in from all over the country, offering rewards, as people found themselves inspired by Autrey's bravery. His mother beamed over him.