By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
John Gearity was late for work on the morning of July 11, but he had a good excuse to give his boss. He had stopped to help save a man’s life in the subway on his way to the office.
Gearity, 21, an intern at a midtown ad agency, and another man, Richard McDonald, a 32-year-old information technology specialist, both risked their lives to help someone in need. The two men jumped onto the tracks at the R train station on Fourth Avenue and 77th Street in Bay Ridge and pulled a man to safety after the man had fallen. Gearity and McDonald saved the man’s life with no time to spear. A Manhattan-bound R train was barreling into the station.
“It wasn’t as stressful as it sounds,” Gearity, a student at the University of Delaware, said modestly. “I just focused on the guy,” McDonald said, referring to the man who had fallen onto the tracks.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) was so impressed when he heard about the heroics that he decided to award Gearity and McDonald state senate proclamations. He presented the proclamations to the two men during a press conference outside the entrance to the 77th Street station on July 16.
Golden, who is a retired New York City police officer, said he admired the men’s courage. “I’m not a guy who can jump onto the tracks when the train is 200 feet away,” he admitted. “When you have a train coming at you, you have no idea how fast that train is coming,” he said. Golden called the men’s actions “an extreme task,” and said that in a situation like the one they faced, “you cannot afford to make a mistake.”
Gearity and McDonald, who did not know each other, were both on their way to work at 7 a.m. on July 11 when they saw a man lying on the tracks. Each one jumped in to try to save the man. They saw each other on the tracks and knew instinctively that if they worked in tandem, they could save the man. “I took a glance at the train and saw there was enough time,” Gearity said. “We got him up on the platform,” McDonald said.
They carried him to the platform on the opposite side, carefully making sure they didn’t step on the electrified third rail.
The unidentified man suffered minor injuries in the fall. News 12 Brooklyn, citing Metropolitan Transportation Authority sources, reported that the man appeared to be intoxicated when the incident took place.
“I’m just happy the guy is fine,” Gearity said.
When the whole thing was over, Gearity noticed that his suit was covered with dirt from the track bed. “I called the office to tell them that this happened and that I had to go home to change. I was about an hour and a half late for work,” he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. His boss understood, he said.
McDonald continued his trip to work. He didn’t brag to his co-workers about his heroics. “I did post something on Facebook,” he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
The bravery displayed by McDonald and Gearity might have gone unnoticed if not for a mutual friend of Gearity’s and Golden’s who informed the state senator of what had happened. “I am extremely proud of these two gentlemen,” Golden said.
Both McDonald and Gearity are lifelong Bay Ridge residents. “I’ve been using this train station all my life,” McDonald said, as rush hour passengers streamed out of the 77th Street station and walked past him and Gearity.