It is easy to be cynical in this world, but we shouldn't be too cynical: there really are heroes out there.
Consider this story:
Wesley Autrey, a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran, faced both those questions in a flashing instant yesterday, and got his answers almost as quickly.
Mr. Autrey was waiting for the downtown local at 137th Street and Broadway in Manhattan around 12:45 p.m. He was taking his two daughters, Syshe, 4, and Shuqui, 6, home before work.
Nearby, a man collapsed, his body convulsing. Mr. Autrey and two women rushed to help, he said. The man, Cameron Hollopeter, 20, managed to get up, but then stumbled to the platform edge and fell to the tracks, between the two rails.
The headlights of the No. 1 train appeared. “I had to make a split decision,” Mr. Autrey said.
So he made one, and leapt.
Mr. Autrey lay on Mr. Hollopeter, his heart pounding, pressing him down in a space roughly a foot deep. The train’s brakes screeched, but it could not stop in time.
Five cars rolled overhead before the train stopped, the cars passing inches from his head, smudging his blue knit cap with grease. Mr. Autrey heard onlookers’ screams. “We’re O.K. down here,” he yelled, “but I’ve got two daughters up there. Let them know their father’s O.K.” He heard cries of wonder, and applause.
Let me tell you, as someone who has waited on many subway stations, including I believe that one, I really do not think I would have done what Wesley Autry did (nor would I have known how to save the man and myself). This is quite extraordinary. The man deserves the admiration and praise of everyone. Through his deed and example, he makes the world a better place.
Who knows why some men are heroes. But my guess is that it has something to do with the fact that he had been in the Navy.