CU Facilities Mechanic Saves Life - March 20, 2008


What started as an ordinary Friday took an amazing turn when Veeramuthu "Kali" Kalimuthu, assistant mechanic for CUF Undergraduate Residential Operations, performed a heroic act of bravery by rescuing an unidentifiable man from the subway tracks at the #1 train's 116th street station.

The incident began at approximately 5:00 p.m. on March 14. Instead of getting his usual ride home from a coworker, Kali decided to ride mass transit en route to Queens. At the same time, a man across the subway station, on the uptown platform, tumbled off the platform and landed on the uptown track, where he laid motionless and unresponsive.

Upon seeing this, subway patrons waiting on the uncrowded uptown platform began yelling for help and running in different directions, with one person running upstairs to inform the MTA employees who work inside the ground level's subway booth.

That's when Kali dropped his bag and ran in the direction of the commotion. "No one was doing anything. They looked confused, and I saw him laying there," says Kali, describing the scene. He proceeded to jump down from his crowded platform into the tracks and courageously traversed across the station, taking care to avoid the third rail-used to supply direct current to power railways-and oncoming trains. He grabbed the man, who was wearing a backpack, and wrapped his arms around his body. After an unsuccessful initial attempt, Kali hoisted him into the hands of two other men on the platform, one of whom was fellow Facilities mechanic Marcus Santos.

Working together, the three men lifted the unidentified man onto the platform. With the man's return to safety, Kali then re-crossed the tracks and returned to the downtown platform to recover his work tools. Stunned and amazed, the bystanders burst into applause. With a quick advice to Marcus that they move the man towards the less crowded stairway, Kali caught his train ride home. The whole incident took place in less than 6 minutes.

When asked why he decided to help the man and then subsequently re-cross the dangerous train tracks, Kali says, "I didn't stop and think; I just reacted. The same way I came was the same way I decided I should go back. I just thought to get my bag and head home."

Kali, who didn't even get a chance to see the rescued man's face, hopes that he is doing okay. He too would have gone unidentified had he not been wearing his Facilities jacket, which got muddied following the incident. "The recognition is nice. I accept it," Kali says humbly before advising to take the time to help others when they're in need.

Despite his soiled jacket, Kali's wife and kids didn't initially believe his remarkable story. Still, his actions come as no surprise to his fellow coworkers in Residential Operations, who each mark the incident as telling of his character. For his amazing character, selfless actions, and 11 years of service to the University, Facilities hails Veeramuthu Kalimuthu.