Dwight Orchard didn't think twice. He dropped his school bag and started running toward the subway tracks where a man had just fallen into the path of an oncoming train.
Shortly after noon on Tuesday at Toronto’s St. Clair West subway station, Orchard -- a 23-year-old plumbing student at George Brown College -- had just stepped onto the platform when he saw a man fall onto the tracks below, reported the Toronto Star.
“I could see the subway running toward him and everybody was screaming,” Orchard told the news source. “It was a split-second decision ... I just wanted to get him out of there. I didn’t want him dying.”
Orchard jumped onto the tracks and tried to lift the unidentified man, who appeared to be intoxicated.
“Seeing the train, I was like, ‘Oh my God. This is not happening.’ Threw my bag down [and] just jumped,” Orchard told City News Toronto.
“It was just happening so fast and the only thing I was thinking was, ‘Get him outta there,’” he added.
According to the Digital Journal, Orchard was unable to lift the man by the shoulders, and instead had to cradle him in his arms and toss him onto the platform before pulling himself up as well.
A TTC employee had seen the man fall at around 12:20 p.m. and cut the power at the station, bringing the train to a halt.
Onlooker Ren Niles told the news source that about three cars entered the station before the train finally stopped.
Orchard, however, who was feeling ill, didn't stay to bask in the glory. He silently boarded the next train, leaving the man he rescued in the care of TTC officials.
Niles, however, who said she wanted to find a way to thank Orchard, snapped a photo of him on the subway train and later posted it to Facebook with a description of his actions. The photo quickly went viral.
Within hours, Orchard was recognized in the photograph. The Toronto Star met up with him at the hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia symptoms.
"That’s awesome, I’m loving it. It makes me feel a lot better,” he said, when asked about his new popularity on social media.
And when the Toronto Star asked him why he chose to jump down on the tracks, he humbly answered, "I had to."
TTC spokesman Brad Ross warned City News about the dangers of Orchards heroic act, “We are thankful and appreciate his efforts to help a fellow citizen, though we don’t encourage people to go down to track level.”
Read the Toronto Star story here and watch the City News report above.