by KATHERINE WILTON
Keri Wilson was waiting for the métro last week when she
saw an elderly man stagger toward the edge of the platform and
tumble onto the tracks at St. Laurent station.
The 17-year-old student raced to the spot where the man had fallen
and saw him lying motionless on his back.
After signaling to fellow
passengers that she needed help, Wilson jumped down onto the tracks
to rescue the man.
As she lifted the elderly
man by his arms, another passenger jumped down and helped hoist
him onto the platform.
Within seconds of the rescue, the train came roaring into the
As Wilson, a Pointe Claire resident, watched métro employees
attend to the bleeding man, tears welled from her eyes as she
realized what she had done.
"It was clear in my mind that if I hadn't done that, he would
have been under the métro," Wilson said in an interview
"I couldn't believe he was still alive. It was an incredible
feeling. I kept thinking he had to get off the tracks."
No Official Plaudits
Although some people feel Wilson's actions were brave, she won't
be receiving plaudits from officials at the Montreal Transit Corp.
"No one should ever, ever do that - it is extremely dangerous,"
said Odile Paradis, a Montreal Transit Corp. spokesman. "She
put her life in danger and that of the other man. They could both
have been electrocuted."
The 750-volt current that runs along the tracks was active because
none of the passengers notified transit officials of the problem
before rescuing the man, Paradis said.
The incident raises questions about the effectiveness of the transit
corporation's recent rider-awareness program. The highly publicized
campaign, which ran in February and March, asks métro passengers
to keep an eye on their fellow passengers and report problems,
like possible suicides, by using the emergency telephones found
on every platform.
Instead of jumping onto the tracks, Paradis said, Wilson should
have picked up one of two red telephones on the platform and told
a transit employee someone was on the tracks.
The employee would immediately cut the electrical current to that
part of the track and notify the approaching driver, who slows
down or halts the métro train.
Wilson said she would have used the red telephone to call for
help, but she was not aware of the safety campaign because she
rides the métro infrequently.
"There were people there who take the métro every
day and none of them thought to pick up the red phone, either,"
said Wilson, who attends Royal West Academy in Montreal West.
"Based on the knowledge I had at the time, I think I did
the right thing."
After she rescued the elderly man, Wilson was sent to Hôtel
Dieu Hospital, where she was monitored for nine hours to ensure
she hadn't received an electrical shock.
Transit officials said they believe the elderly man had fallen
on to the tracks and was not attempting suicide. The man was treated
at Montreal General Hospital and released.
Paradis had no other information about him.
Wilton's E-mail address is email@example.com.
© Copyright 2002 Montreal Gazette
In this photo
from an STM publication about her rescue,
Kerianne displays how to use the emergeny telephone.
with Jacques Fortin of the STM.
Here she is
seen with STM spokeswoman Odile Paradis.
from left) with fellow members of the West Island Youth Symphony
fellow EMSB prize winners at her high school graduation
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