PHILADELPHIA – A recovering drug addict with a long rap sheet who was hailed as a hero for jumping onto subway tracks to rescue a man who walked off a platform deflected the praise Friday by saying he was just doing the “right thing.”
Still, Christopher Knafelc suggested that he views the good deed he did, and the praise that followed, as another sign that he is on the right path in life.
“It did help reinforce that I’m a good person,” Knafelc told the Associated Press in an interview at his mother’s south Philadelphia apartment. “I questioned that a lot because of my colorful past.”
Knafelc, 32, had just sat down to wait for a train at a north Philadelphia station on Thursday afternoon when he saw a man flail and fall off the platform and onto the tracks. He said he instinctively jumped down to help, knowing that a train would be arriving in a few minutes.
He called up to people on the platforms to get the trains stopped and he held the man’s head and neck stable until firefighters arrived. Train traffic was halted.
“I don’t see it as being heroic. I just see it as doing the right thing,” Knafelc said.
Knafelc said he has battled substance abuse since he was in middle school in Baden, Pa., and spent years in and out of rehab. He said he has been sober since July 2010.
Investigators do not know what caused the man to fall on the tracks. Surveillance video shows him walking slowly toward the platform’s edge and then over it. He was taken to a hospital and listed in stable condition.