The last year has been littered with horrific stories of anti-Asian attacks throughout the country, ranging from verbal confrontations to violent assaults and even murder. Rarely have there been stories of someone stepping in to save a victim from becoming another tragic statistic.
“We’re here to put up Tobin as an example of someone who really did the right thing — saved a life, is our hero — and is an example of how people should never just be bystanders as others are hurting and suffering, but to be upstanders and to do the right thing. Tobin’s actions are a bright spot in this very dark tunnel of which we have seen an onsluaght of hate crimes,” said state Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside).
Liu bestowed a state Heroism Award upon Tobin Madathil, an MTA train operator, May 28 for saving the life of an Asian-American man who was shoved onto subway tracks four days earlier.
That Monday morning, an Asian man was waiting for the F train at the 21st Street-Queensbridge station in Long Island City when he was pushed onto the tracks by an unknown assailant, police said. Madathil saw something out of the corner of his eye and quickly put the train into emergency mode, stopping it prematurely and preventing the victim from being struck and killed.
Madathil and other witnesses jumped onto the tracks to help the 35-year-old victim back onto the platform. He was taken by Emergency Medical Services to Mount Sinai Queens hospital, where he was treated for a cut on his forehead, a significantly less traumatic injury than he would have sustained if it weren’t for Madathil’s speedy intervention.
“I couldn’t have done this without God’s grace,” Madathil said, adding that he prays before leaving the terminal each day. “Through this experience I found that a life could be cut too short. We need to appreciate every second of the day because you never know what will be the last.”
Though Madathil was the only recipient of the Heroism Award, he assured all present that the rescue was a team effort and that the willingness of witnesses to bring the victim to safety was remarkable.
“This is nothing short of a miracle,” Madathil said.
The police are still searching for the assailant, and the assault is being investigated as a hate crime. According to the NYPD, he “said something unintelligible to [the victim] and shoved him onto the southbound train tracks” before escaping to the street in an unknown direction.
State Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Nassau) stopped by the ceremony to present Madathil with a proclamation honoring the hero for his actions. Thomas, the first Indian American in New York history to serve in the state Senate, pointed out the significance of Madathil, an Asian American, saving another from potential murder.
“During this time when there’s a lot of hatred towards our community, someone from our own community doing something good is just something that — God put you there at the right time,” Thomas said.