The unidentified man in the wheelchair was trying to get closer to read a metro sign when he “plummeted” off the platform — face first.
Luckily for the man, army specialist Michael Menchaca was coming down the escalator when his wheelchair went over the side of the Metro platform in DC, on Independence day. Menchaca said, “I saw something go over on the track. I went to go see and look down, and there was a guy strapped to his wheelchair.”
As WJLA ABC 7 reports, not only was the unidentified man strapped in to the wheelchair, but he had “landed just inches from the 750-volt third rail.” Seeing this, Menchaca knew he had to take some kind of action. He said, “I just jumped down there and started helping him out. I tried picking him up, but realized he was still strapped to his wheelchair.”
The soldier struggled with the straps, his concern that a train could come “barreling down the tracks” at any moment making “every second felt like 30 seconds, you know that kind of thing,” he said. Menchaca was unaware that Metro staff had already alerted the central control system and all trains were being stopped.
A second commuter joined Menchaca on the rails to try to get the wheelchair bound man unstrapped, and the heart stopping video also shows another passenger from the far platform leap over both third rails to help lift the man to safety.
Authorities report that the man “sustained only minor injuries,” but that it could have been much worse without the quick thinking and actions of Menchaca and the other two passengers who came to the man’s assistance. When asked by WJLA if he thought he was a hero, the soldier replied, “No, not really — I was just doing the right thing.”
ABC has learned that Menchaca is now “being considered for the Soldier’s Medal,” which is the highest peacetime award the Army has.