ORINDA (AP) — A U.S. Army officer who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq was celebrated as a hero for his actions off the battlefield.
Maj. Adam Czekanski received a medal from the Army on Thursday for his efforts to rescue a man who fell onto Bay Area Rapid Transit train tracks in Orinda in January, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Czekanski, 37, ran from the top of an escalator at the station, jumped onto the tracks and pulled the man under the platform, as a BART train bore down on them. The man may have suffered a seizure.
Czekanski credited his response to his Army training, which he said prepared him to make “quick decisions.”
The medal he received, the Soldier’s Medal, is the Army’s highest award for valor in a noncombat setting and is given out only a few times a year, the Chronicle reported. Czekanski, who is now deputy commander of the Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco Area, has previously been awarded the Bronze Star three times and the Purple Heart.
Czekanski said that when he jumped onto the tracks, the man was on his back, had a gash on his head and was bleeding and unresponsive. Czekanski yelled at other people to call 911.
The train operator, meanwhile, had seen what she thought was a black jacket fall onto the tracks, so she hit the emergency brake and stopped the train.
The injured man was taken to a hospital and told BART police he did not remember anything from the time he blacked out to when he regained consciousness in the ambulance, the Chronicle reported.
“I know it sounds like a cliche,” Czekanski said. “But I did what I had to do.”
He added: “I hope that someone would do the same for me.”