A man had just fallen onto the electrified rail on Chicago’s Red Line — seemingly unconscious, convulsing and unable to save himself. A crowd was gathering, and the unfolding tragedy was being recorded.
That’s what Anthony Perry, 20, saw less than a week ago as he got off at his usual train stop on his way home. Perry says he felt compelled to act: He jumped onto the tracks, skipped over the third rail and pulled the man to safety.
It was an act of kindness that would soon lead to national attention for Perry — and a gift that would change his life. But at the time, helping someone in need was all that was on Perry’s mind, he said.
“The guy didn’t have control of his body so I really felt like, if I don’t help him, who will help?” Perry told USA TODAY. “Everybody was just standing around recording.”
With the help of another commuter, Perry performed CPR as he waited for paramedics to arrive on scene.
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The unidentified man was taken to a nearby hospital and was expected to survive, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Police are currently investigating what led to the man landing on the tracks, the newspaper reported.
After that, Perry’s life mostly went back to normal — for about a day and a half, he said.
Soon, videos of the incident started attracting attention on social media. On Tuesday, Perry received a call from Early Walker, Chicago native and founder of the anti-violence group I’m Telling Don’t Shoot.
Finding Perry had been no easy task, Walker told USA TODAY. He and his wife had seen a video of the heroic act circulating on social media, but could find little information on who the rescuer was. After digging for several days, they finally found him.
He learned from Perry that fateful trip to the train station could be traced back to a misfortune that happened in April. After saving up for months, Perry said he had invested all of his savings into what turned out to be a defective car. He had been relying on public transportation since.
Walker was inspired by Perry’s act of kindness, he explained, and he had a surprise for him as a token of his appreciation.
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“We see a lot of incidents where individuals just pull their phones out and literally that was the case here … they were recording this gentleman dying and Anthony was the only one that decided to do something positive. So, I immediately jumped into motion and said, let’s help this guy,” Walker told USA TODAY.
They agreed on a time and place to meet: Wednesday in front of Meyering Park, near Perry’s residence.
Perry arrived to the park the following day to find Walker, members of the Chicago Police Department, and local news channels’ crews awaiting him. After introductions, Walker awarded Perry a $25 gasoline card – for his new 2009 Audi A8.
“We wanted to literally show our appreciation because we need more people like you. We need more Anthonys in the world,” Walker said to Perry. The gesture has since attracted national attention.
Perry said the car will make his life “way easier.” His daily commute from his home in Greater Grand Crossing to his job will be cut from over an hour to around 30 minutes.
The car not only means he will no longer have to take two buses and a train each morning, but it will also remind him the importance of lending a hand to those in need.
“It means a lot, honestly, to see somebody else being selfless. (Walker) paid it forward for me doing the right thing and that meant a lot,” Perry said. “The next time you see somebody that needs help, the first thing we can do is not record, but instead we can help.”
Contributing: The Associated Press