Richard Montgomery, 21, said he takes SEPTA on a regular basis, and never hoped to witness what he did.
Montgomery said he was walking along the platform of the southbound city hall station to board a trolley, when out of the corner of his eye he saw papers flying in the air. When he went to see what happened, he found a man lying on his back between the tracks.
“As I realized what had happened I was feeling very helpless and concerned up until the point that I could help,” Montgomery said.
With the sound of the train drawing closer, Montgomery, along with another woman, used signals in an attempt to slow the train down. During this time, he also tried to reach out for the man; however, he wasn’t reaching back.
Once the train slowed, Montgomery proceeded to help the man get off the tracks. The train eventually came to a stop, and Montgomery proceeded to lift the man off the tracks to safety.
Regarding the risk factor, Montgomery said, “I hadn’t even considered the risk until it was all over, I was just acting and not really thinking about it.” Despite that, he went on to say, “I don’t think I would’ve ever went in if I didn’t think I would be alright.”
When asked if he knew the victim, Montgomery said no. “He didn’t talk much, was probably in shock. He just said ‘thanks forever man’ a few times. I didn’t even get his name.”
Publicity has been prominent for Montgomery. He said it’s being brought up everywhere he goes, and can be a little distracting at times. Nonetheless, he’s appreciative of the kind words being said.
Among those saying kind words include a police officer on board the train, and a SEPTA employee who commended him. “The police officer commended me saying ‘that took a lot of heart’.” Those were two of only a handful of witnesses, Montgomery said. “I think there must have only been 3-4 people who saw what happened. The police officer, the woman who stopped with me, and another man who stopped.”
Montgomery said at this point, it’s a pretty horrifying memory, but luckily everything worked out for both of them. “I knelt next to the man literally with my hand over my heart just in total disbelief of what had just taken place.”
In terms of whether or not such heroics is condoned, SEPTA officials said, “We don’t want people to risk their own safety. What we tell people is if we see something like that happen, use the emergency call box that contacts the police command center so they will get word to stop the trains.”
Regardless, officials said they are grateful for Montgomery’s actions.
“The train wouldn’t have stopped if I didn’t jump down, since they couldn’t see the man,” Montgomery said. “It was just an insanely lucky situation for that man. He was lucky I happened to be on that side of the platform, for I barely even saw him. He was lucky the train just happened to be going slow enough for us to help him. As I was waiting for help to arrive the trains that preceded were going much faster and there’s no way they would’ve been able to stop in time. But fortunately everything worked out.”