No hero's welcome for métro rescuer
Student put life at risk saving man, transit officials say


by KATHERINE WILTON
Montreal Gazette, Monday, April 29, 2002

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 station.

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 yesterday.

"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.

Katherine Wilton's E-mail address is kwilton@thegazette.southam.ca.

© Copyright 2002 Montreal Gazette


In this photo from an STM publication about her rescue,
Kerianne displays how to use the emergeny telephone.


Kerianne poses with Jacques Fortin of the STM.


Here she is seen with STM spokeswoman Odile Paradis.


Kerianne (2nd from left) with fellow members of the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra


Kerianne with fellow EMSB prize winners at her high school graduation


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