Subway heroes: NYC police officers save visually impaired man who fell onto tracks

NEW YORK — Two New York City police officers were honored Wednesday for rescuing a visually impaired man who had fallen onto subway tracks.

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarded “Hero of the Subway” commendations to Officer Jason Macaluso and Detective Henry Greco, the agency said in a news release. The two officials were honored for pulling Sulieman Rifai, 61, to safety after the man fell off the subway platform at the Grant Avenue station in eastern Brooklyn.

The two officers were patrolling the subway platform on May 18 when they noticed Rifai fall face-first onto the tracks, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.

“Detective Greco and Police Officer Macaluso were patrolling the Grant Avenue station on May 18, when they saw Sulieman Rifai fall onto the tracks,” MTA CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement. “We all know the roadbed is a dangerous place and this case particularly so, because Mr. Rifai is blind. With a train about to pull into the station, Detective Greco and Officer Macaluso had to act quickly to get Mr. Rifai to safety and they didn’t waste a single second.”

“We did hear the train coming towards us at first and then we saw the light of a train coming,” Greco said in a statement. “I waved my arms and used my flashlight to wave down the train to slow it down.”

Macaulso said he spoke to Rifai so he could guide him back toward the platform, the MTA stated in its release.

“I felt he’d be comforted by the sound of my voice and used it to guide him towards us,” Macaluso said in a statement.

The officers were able to grab Rifai, pull him back onto the platform and guide him to a nearby bench.

“I want to say thank you for the officers who rescued me last week,” Rifai said in a statement. “Without you, I would never be here today, so I really am grateful for you being there at the right time. And when I heard your voices, I knew I would be OK.

“And I’m OK today, and again, from the bottom of my heart, you are my friends for life for saving my life. And I really appreciate you.”

The two officers normally do not patrol in the subway. They are neighborhood coordinator offices but were assigned to the subway as part of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ safety plan that deploys officers to conduct inspections in stations.

“We’re housing cops,” Macaluso said. “Normally, we’re in buildings walking up and down stairs on patrol.  We don’t have trains rolling towards us.”

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