Revenue Collection Agent a Hero for Coming to the Aid of Mobility-Impaired Customer
Revenue Collection Agent Carlos Betencourt came to work on Friday, December 17 thinking his night would be pretty routine. It turned out to be anything but, as the veteran Transit employee found himself in three places he never dreamt of being --- on the track bed, in the hospital and on television --- all within a six-hour period.
Betencourt was one of a small group that came to the aid of a customer who had lost control of his motorized unit and plunged off the platform of the Lexington Avenue Line Station at 125th Street during the Friday evening rush hour.
Jerome Billings, 60, was sitting in his motorized wheelchair when he bent over to retrieve his dropped Bible. The wheelchair then took off, toppling onto the tracks of the Bronx-bound No. 6 train.
"I was standing in the station when some customers came up to me and my supervisor and told us that there was a person on the tracks," said Betencourt, who has been a Transit employee for seven years. "I didn't know how much time we had, so I got to him as quickly as I could."
Disregarding his own safety, Betencourt jumped from the platform onto the track alongside a couple of straphangers. Together, they were able to lift the 300-pound Billings to the platform. After that, they lifted the wheelchair from the tracks and placed it on the platform.
"Mr. Betancourt's act speaks highly of his dedication and his concern for the safety of our customers. I am extremely proud of his actions," NYC Transit President Thomas Prendergast said.
Billings suffered a broken leg in the four-and-half foot fall and Betencourt had a leg injury of his own because of the jump, though he did not realize it immediately. "The scariest thing was that he was trying to reach out and grab something to pull himself up and that something was the third rail," Betencourt recounted. One of the other guys on the track with me reached out and grabbed his hand before he could touch it."
Betencourt said that he is happy that most of the excitement surrounding his heroic act has subsided and that everything turned out alright in the end, despite the potential for tragedy. "I'm really glad that the gentleman is going to be OK," he said.