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Brooklyn Borough President Honors Two Life-Saving Straphangers

By Janet Upadhye | December 18, 2012 2:26pm

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — When Doreen Winkler and Victor Samuel first met two weeks ago in the Bowling Green subway station, they exchanged a mere moment of eye contact and then brief life-changing words.

Winkler quickly vowed to pull Samuel to safety as he leaped to help a third stranger who had tumbled onto the tracks as a 5 train approached Dec. 6.

Their efforts saved the man's life.

On Tuesday morning, the pair met once again in Brooklyn's Borough Hall, as Borough President Marty Markowitz proclaimed Dec. 18 "Doreen Winkler and Victor Samuel Recognition Day."

"When some might have turned their backs, these two moved forward," Markowitz said of the "local heroes."

Their bravery came three days after another high-profile subway incident left Ki-Suck Han dead, putting the city on heightened alert.

Han was shoved onto the tracks in Manhattan's 49th Street subway station, but Jack Simmons, a homeless man formerly of the South Bronx, slipped and fell.

Samuel, a father of two from Forest Hills, Queens, who had been standing nearby, instantly lunged onto the tracks to help Simmons, the Daily News reported.

But as the 5 train rounded the corner about 10 p.m., the 43-year-old realized he couldn't lift Simmons to the platform.

"I didn't realize how hard it would be to get back out," Samuel said Tuesday. "I felt somebody grabbing me. It turns out it was Doreen."

Fueled by adrenaline, the 5-foot-2 Winkler summoned the strength to pull both men from the tracks.

"I saw red train lights coming, and my adrenaline kicked in," said Winkler, of Bushwick. "It was all instinct."

After saving Simmons' life, the duo parted ways without speaking.

"The one and only thing I said to Victor was a promise," Winkler said. "I promised if he jumped down, I would pull him back up."