Assessing the situation in seconds, construction worker Wesley Autrey leaped to help Mr. Hollopter, press himself and Hollopter into the 21-inch space between the bottom of the train and the ditch between the rails.
The train passed harmlessly over them with less than an inch to spare as onlookers – including Mr. Autrey's 4- and 6-year-old daughters – watched. Autrey kept Hollopter calm for 20 minutes as officials worked to free them.
Then he went to work.
At a City Hall ceremony honoring Autrey, who had been dubbed the "subway hero," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said "Wesley's astonishing bravery – saving a life in the face on an oncoming subway car – is an inspiration not just to New Yorkers, but the entire world. His courageous rescue of a complete stranger is a reminder of how we are surrounded by everyday heroes in New York City."
Autrey said he was just in the right place at the right time, and offered this advice: “All New Yorkers! If you see somebody in distress, go for it!”