A railway customer service worker in England was suspended from his job this week after he heroically jumped onto the tracks, saving the life of an elderly woman who accidentally rolled into the path of approaching trains in her wheelchair.
Alan Chittock, 50, was working the ticket gates at Southend Central Station in England’s Essex County at around 6:10 p.m. on Aug. 28 when he saw a wheelchair-bound customer, who appeared to be in her 70s, lose control of her chair and fall onto the tracks.
A commuter train was due in minutes. Safety protocols required that Chittock (pictured) simply press a button, alerting signal operators to divert the train, but he felt that there was not enough time for the train to come to a full stop without striking the woman.
So Chittock jumped onto the tracks himself and, with the help of three other people, pulled the woman to safety.
The endangered woman was disabled and strapped into her chair, so she could not have rescued herself.
“The woman just rolled off the platform edge,” witness Brian Cassar told the Mirror newspaper. “This guy immediately jumped down on to the track and then some other members of the public helped get her back on to the platform. A train was on its way, so she probably would have got hurt if he hadn’t got involved.”
“He deserves a medal!” declared another witness.
But his employer, the railway company c2c which operates the line from South London to Essex, did not give Chittock a medal, or any recognition for his courageous actions. In fact, the loyal employee, who has worked 30 years at the same station, was handed a suspension and could even face dismissal from his duties.
“We have strict rules regarding correct safety procedures,” said a c2c spokesperson. “An employee has been suspended while our investigations into the incident continue.”
The company’s rules prohibit employees from climbing down to the tracks without prior permission from a signaller.
SOURCES: Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, BBC News