Anthony Perry, 20, retold his account of his daring act of bravery to CBS 2, explaining how he spotted trouble from the moment that he stepped onto the platform on Sunday afternoon after exiting the Chicago Transit Authority Red Line train at the 69th Street station.
“I immediately noticed there was a fight,” the 20-year-old told the news station, “because both guys got their dukes up – they were like putting their stuff down.”
The two men were caught in a separate viral video shared online, where it shows the pair breaking out into a brawl that then spilled onto the tracks. One of the men managed to escape with minor abrasions. The other man who reportedly initiated the fight, according to the Chicago Police Department, got stuck on the third rail with his body visibly absorbing the 600 volts of shocks that pulse through the locomotive tracks.
Jarring video footage from the scene shows Mr Perry beginning to navigate the tracks, cautiously trying to dodge the electrified portions of the railway. Onlookers in the video can be heard off-camera advising the young man to avoid touching the man, warning that he too could get shocked.
“Somebody help him,” a person can be heard begging. Mr Perry is then seen hopping over the track, before he makes his first attempt at grabbing the convulsing man from the third rail.
“I don’t think I was thinking about what could happen to me at the moment,” he told WGN 9. “I felt a little shock.”
In the video, you can briefly see the shock that the 20-year-old described zip through his body as he seems to recoil briefly when he first attempts to move the fallen man. The second and final attempt to rescue the man is where Mr Perry is, as he told the news station, not “letting that [shock]” stop him.
“I felt it all over my body actually and then I just didn’t let that stop me,” he added.
Once the man was freed from the tracks, Mr Perry performed CPR on the victim alongside another passenger, ABC 6 reported.
Paramedics arrived shortly after and took the victim who received severe electric shocks from his fall on the commuter rail to University of Chicago Medical Center, where police reported he remained in serious condition.
Though many stood by and recorded the disturbing incident, Mr Perry was humble when he disclosed to local news about why he felt compelled to risk his own well-being to help a stranger.
“I could’ve kept walking, but I was like, you know what? I’m not going to keep walking - because God wouldn’t want me to do that … so I took action immediately."
By the midweek, the young man, who is all too familiar with Chicago’s commuter rail as he spends nearly 90-minutes on it in his daily commute to and from work, had been rewarded for his act of kindness.
On Wednesday, Mr Perry was surprised with a gift of a 2009 Audi A8 from Early Walker, founder of the anti-violence organisation I’m Telling Don’t Shoot.
“We wanted to literally show our appreciation because we need more people like you. We need more Anthonys in the world,” Mr Walker said after handing Mr Perry a $25 gasoline card, according to the Associated Press.
For the 20-year-old, he told the news outlet that the car will make his life “way easier”, as that hour-and-a-half commute from his home on the South Side of Chicago to his job in the suburbs requires him to transfer from two buses and a train.
In a statement issued by the Chicago Transportation Authority, they acknowledged that passengers should not attempt to move victims who have fallen on the rail tracks, as “they risk electrocution”.
“Any customer witnessing a person on the tracks should also notify CTA personnel immediately, or call 911. They should never try to enter the right of way, or try to remove the person themselves, as they risk electrocution,” the CTA said.
The Independent has reached out to the Chicago Police Department for an update on the case but did not hear back before publication.