Meet the Man Who Saved a Stranger Being Electrocuted by Live Train Tracks

Updated: Aug. 15, 2023

Deadly jolts of electricity kept anyone from grabbing him—so a Good Samaritan stepped up to help

Anthony Perry sitting on a benchPhotograph by Anthony Tahlier
Anthony Perry ignored the inherent dangers of a busy train track to save a stricken passenger.

It was a sunny afternoon in June of 2022 when Anthony Perry stepped off the train at Chicago’s 69th Street station. The 20-year-old, who worked nights in a grocery store, was on his way to see his grandfather so they could go look at a car Perry was thinking about buying.

On the platform, two men were throwing punches. Then the unthinkable happened: The pair tumbled over the edge and onto the tracks. One man ended up on his back, fending off blows. Suddenly, he started bucking and convulsing. The aggressor straddling him leaped backward, bounded back up onto the platform and disappeared.

The man had fallen atop the third rail, the conduit for the 600 volts of electricity that power Chicago’s L trains. As Perry and other horrified onlookers watched, he twitched grotesquely as the current surged through his body, his head bouncing up and down off the tracks.

“Help him!” a woman wailed. “Please, someone!”

Perry couldn’t just stand there and watch. He sat at the edge of the platform and eased himself down. Assuming that every rail between him and the man was electrified, Perry took a few quick bounds, ­high-kneeing it as he’d done in high school football, until he was standing over the victim.

The guy looked dead, his body still thrashing rhythmically as the electricity pulsed, his head banging against a steel rail. Perry wondered how he was going to escape the situation he’d just put himself into—straddling the deadly rail, about to lay hands on a body coursing with electricity. The train he’d just gotten off was idling, thankfully. But had the conductor seen him? Would it start up again?

Perry was recruited by the Chicago Fire Department.

Putting his trust in God, Perry reached down and grasped the victim’s wrist. Instantly, he felt a blast of electric shock shoot through his body. Perry flinched and jumped back. He reached down a second time, and was shocked again. But the third time he seized the man’s wrist and forearm and, braving the shock, yanked. The guy’s body slid briefly along the third rail, coming to rest on the gravel on the outer edge of the tracks, beside a concrete barricade.

The man was breathing, but raggedly. Something wasn’t right.

“Give him chest compressions!” yelled a woman on the platform wearing scrubs.

Perry was no expert, but for a few moments he worked on the man’s heart until the victim began convulsing. Once again, Perry grabbed him, keeping him from flailing back onto the third rail or smashing his head into the concrete.

Then, he heard a commotion behind him—paramedics and firefighters had arrived. They’d told authorities to cut the circuit, deactivating the third rail. Perry let the professionals take over. His heart still racing from the adrenaline and the electric shocks, he climbed back up onto the platform, grabbed his things and continued on to his grandfather’s. As planned, they went to look at the car he wanted to buy, but it had been sold.

The evening news reported the incident, crediting an anonymous hero with saving the victim’s life. After a friend outed him to the media, Perry became the toast of Chicago. Just days after the incident, a local philanthropist rewarded him with a car. Perry was then recruited by the Chicago Fire Department and is now training to be an EMT.

Out of all the people on the platform that day, why was Perry the only one to help? As he sees it, he alone was not thinking about what harm might befall him.

“The word I’ll use is faith,” he says. “Faith over fear.”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest