NEW JERSEY — A New Jersey transit officer was faced with a difficult decision: Let go of the man lying on the tracks as a train barreled toward the station, or pull hard one last time and get them both to safety.
Officer Victor Ortiz is now being hailed as a hero for saving a suicidal man who refused to budge in the face of an oncoming train.
Ortiz was on his regular patrol of the Secaucus Junction terminal Friday morning when he received a call of a disturbance on a train.
“I waited for the train to come in and before the conductor could tell me what the problem was, the individual exited the train,” Ortiz told CNN.
He said he asked the man to take a seat but instead “the man said, ‘No, I’m not going to jail,’ and then jumped down on to the track.”
Ortiz tried to talk to the man — to no avail.
“As soon as I was able to find that right angle, I jumped down on to the tracks,” he said.
The entire incident was caught on surveillance video.
‘I have to let go’
“The man just kept saying, ‘I just want to die, I just want to die,'” Ortiz said.
There is a moment seen on video where the man pulls Ortiz in.
“I thought, ‘I have to let go,'” said Ortiz. “Then I said to myself, ‘I’m going to pull him one more time.'”
“Luckily the will of God or I don’t know, but something came over me and I was able to pull one more time and get him to safety,” added Ortiz
The video show Ortiz regaining his balance and control before pulling the man– seconds before the train arrived.
“Officer Ortiz’s selfless and heroic actions demonstrated a level of bravery and a true sense of compassion and purpose that often goes unrecognized but is ever present in our law enforcement community,” New Jersey Transit said in a statement.
The man pulled from the tracks was taken to a hospital for an evaluation.