Humble Hero Saves Teen Who Fell Onto Subway Tracks
UNION SQUARE — Meet the Big Apple’s newest hero.
Good Samaritan Joshua Garcia saved the life of a 16-year-old teenage girl who fainted on a crowded Union Square subway platform during rush hour Wednesday, plunging head first onto the tracks just a minute before a train pulled into the station, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Garcia, an Aramark food service employee at New York University, was standing with his manager, Lourdes Munoz, and hundreds of other straphangers Wednesday about 6:45 p.m.
The coworkers were chatting as they waited for an uptown train to the Bronx when Garcia saw Stephanie Xue begin to sway near the platform edge about 50 feet in front of him.
“She was leaning over the platform like she was woozy from medication, and then I saw her fall and I was like, ‘Oh s---!,’” Garcia told “On The Inside.”
Her head struck a rail with such force it sounded like a gunshot, and her body splayed diagonally across the tracks.
As other straphangers stood by, Garcia decided to help — but not before he had to tear himself away from Munoz, who had grabbed him with all her strength, mistakenly fearing he was about to run toward a gun battle.
Garcia pushed his way through the crowd and then jumped onto the tracks.
“God put me in that situation," he said. "It was where I was supposed to be."
Xue was unconscious and bleeding profusely. She had a deep, 6-inch gash across the right side of her head. “You could see her skull,” Garcia said. “It was terrifying to look at.”
The strapping Garcia quickly lifted the slight 5-foot-4 teen above his head and placed her onto the platform.
“It was adrenaline and the power of the Lord,” Garcia said.
For a moment, he found himself looking up from the tracks at scores of faces watching them. Some people were snapping photos or taking video with their cellphones, he said.
“It was amazing seeing all these people doing nothing,” he said. “It was an eye-opener.”
Garcia hoisted himself back onto the platform as Justine Omilig, 23, a nursing student at Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing emerged from the crowd.
"When I saw the bleeding, I had to run over," she said.
Garcia cradled Xue’s head in his arms to keep her steady and Omilig pressed a wad of tissues from Munoz against the gash. They kept the teen talking until police officers and paramedics arrived and took her to Bellevue Hospital.
Everyone agrees Xue was a very fortunate girl. Although her head wound required more than 50 stitches to close, she was released the following morning, she said.
Xue said she recalls little about what happened inside the Union Square station.
“I remember I started to feel dizzy and I just blacked out, and then I woke up and Joshua was helping support my neck and this woman was applying pressure to my wound,” Xue told “On The Inside.”
Xue, a student at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College in the Bronx, said the accident occurred as she was heading home after getting a bite to eat with friends at a bagel shop near Union Square.
She and her family told “On The Inside” they cannot thank Garcia enough for saving her life.
“There is a lot I want to say, but it is hard to find the words,” Xue said. “I am just so thankful he was there to help me.
“Joshua told me he was just very happy to save me and was sorry that this happened,” Xue added.
Garcia brushes aside any suggestion he acted heroically.
After he helped Xue, the father of three went home and barely mentioned the incident to his family or to his colleagues the following morning.
“I give all the glory to Lord Jesus,” Garcia concluded. “I was glad to help and to show her that there are good people out there.”