"That's what we do," said BART Transportation Supervisor John O’Connor in a press conference Monday. "We preach safety, and we practice it"
When John O’Connor reported to work on Sunday, he surely had no idea that he’d end his shift a hero.
O’Connor, a transportation supervisor for the Northern California Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), was trying to keep passengers at bay at the Oakland station after the Raiders’ home victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday evening when he spotted a man fall onto the tracks.
“It seemed a lot slower than it actually happened,” O’Connor said at a press conference Monday after footage of his impressive rescue went viral online.
“He came to the side, I figured he wasn’t going to make it so I grabbed him and pulled him up to the platform,” he told local media, according to a news release from BART. “That’s what we do. We got foreworkers, train operators, station agents who deal with this on a daily basis. We preach safety, and we practice it.”
In the intense video, a large crowd jostles on the platform, waiting for the train to arrive. Many of the passengers wear black Raiders gear, but O’Connor can be spotted wearing a yellow vest near the middle of the platform.
As the train approaches the stop, a man can be seen walking onto the yellow safety strip before falling onto the tracks. According to BART, the man was intoxicated.
With just seconds before the train arrives at the stop, O’Connor can be seen quickly diving towards the man and hauling him back up onto the platform.
O’Connor, who has worked for BART for 24 years, said Monday that he had no time to think when he saw the man fall. “I just looked and it just happened.”
“There really was no time to make a decision,” he said, adding that while he was initially angry at the intoxicated man’s carelessness, that feeling quickly melted away, making room for “relief and gratitude,” according to the BART’s release. O’Connor said he told the man to “pay it forward.”
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But despite O’Connor’s selfless act, he said Monday that “it’s really awkward to be called a hero.”
“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “We’re all human beings and life is precious.”
“A lot of times, people see us and they don’t understand what we’re doing and what we’re going through but when something like this goes down, we rise to the occasion,” he continued. “Whether it’s the ’89 (Loma Prieta) Earthquake, the Giants World Series, you name it, BART’s been here for the Bay Area, and what we do is we try to get people where they need to be.”