NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A good Samaritan was hailed as a hero at Wednesday’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority board meeting. He caught the suspect allegedly responsible for derailing a subway train over the weekend and held him until police arrived.
Rikien Wilder was praised and awarded by MTA brass for not only saving lives, but catching the suspect in Sunday morning’s subway derailment.
“What you did for your fellow New Yorkers was astonishing,” said Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of the New York City Transit Authority.
“I’m very overwhelmed and ultimately genuinely happy and grateful,” said Wilder.
MTA leaders said the scene, damage and injuries would have been much worse if not for Wilder’s quick thinking while he waited for a train at the 14th Street station in Chelsea.
Wilder said he noticed a strange man walking on the tracks, and then placing debris on the rails. When the man came up to the platform, Wilder jumped into action and headed down to the tracks, himself.
“I removed what I could see and I got up out of there because you know, I could hear, I could feel the turbulence from the train coming,” Wilder said. “It kind of angered me a little bit because he seemed to get some joy out of, you know, wrecking the train and potentially harming people.”
Wilder went to alert MTA workers at the station, while the man, who police identified as Demetrius Harvard, allegedly went back down to the tracks and placed more debris on the rails. The next train that passed derailed, injuring three people.
“Normally, we don’t encourage riders, customers to go down onto the tracks,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said.
But Wilder wasn’t done. He then chased the suspect and held him for 15 minutes until police arrived. Chairman Foye said that for Wilder’s heroism the MTA would “extend the highest award the MTA can provide to a civilian” — a year of unlimited MetroCard rides.
Wilder said he doesn’t consider himself a hero. He’s just grateful his parents raised him to always look out for others. Wilder, who said he sprained his wrist while holding that suspect down, also received a “New York Tough” T-shirt, face mask, and a special “subway hero” sign.
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