When Ramiro Ocasio, a 33-year-old Kirkland & Ellis records assistant, left work last Friday, the last thing on his mind was that he’d have to risk life and limb to save an elderly man from being the latest victim in a string of subway fatalities. Ordinarily, Ocasio would have still been at work, but the New York office of Kirkland let everyone leave at 3 p.m. that day so they could get a jump on the long weekend. Ocasio was waiting on the platform of the N/R station at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue for the train to take him to his home in Astoria, Queens, when he noticed an elderly man on the subway tracks struggling to stand up. (The man’s name and identify have not been made public.)
“He seemed disoriented,” said Ocasio, who estimates that the man was between 70 and 75 years of age and weighed about 120 to 130 pounds. “People were yelling at him to get close to the platform, but he seemed out of it,” Ocasio said. He sprung into action. After he jumped onto the tracks, he said he then felt the ground shake and saw the reflection of train lights. With little time to act, he said he grabbed the man by his shirt collar and lifted him onto the platform in the span of about 10 seconds. “I’m not a strong man and I’m definitely not a tough guy,” said Ocasio. “But I guess it was adrenaline.” Four or five commuters then reached out to pull Ocasio up to the platform. About 10 seconds later, the train whizzed by.
In retrospect, Ocasio said he was luckier than he initially realized. “Later on, MTA officials told me that if [the elderly man] had touched the third rail, we both would have died,” he said. And while Ocasio acknowledged the danger he put himself in to help a stranger, he didn’t classify his efforts as anything out of the ordinary. “I’m no hero,” said Ocasio. “I’m not the only one who saved him.”