A man on his way to pick up his dog jumped off a Broad Street Line platform this week to rescue a woman who had fallen onto the tracks.
The woman, 30, was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital but suffered only minor injuries, SEPTA officials said Friday. Her rescuer, Ben Runyan, 31, of Philadelphia, said a train arrived just after other passengers pulled him to safety.
“I didn’t want to see someone get destroyed by a train,” Runyan said.
SEPTA confirmed that passengers helped a woman who fell off the northbound express platform at the City Hall station shortly before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. The woman appeared to have fallen accidentally, SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch said. SEPTA declined to release video of the incident.
The incident is the 384th time since 2012 that SEPTA recorded a passenger falling off a platform on any of its rail services. Of those, about 94 percent happen on the Broad Street or Market-Frankford Lines.
On all its rail systems, about 10 to 12 people a year die from being hit by a train, Busch said.
The woman and her rescuer were off the track so quickly the incident did not disrupt service, Busch said.
Runyan, a professor of music technology at Drexel University, was waiting on the local platform for a train to Spring Garden Street, where he was going to pick up his dog from his wife’s office. He heard the woman fall, he said, walked to the express platform, and saw her lying between the rails. Other passengers yelled down to her to get up.
He sat on the edge of the platform and jumped down, he said, not really thinking that Philadelphia’s subway lines are powered by electrified third rails.
“It crossed my mind that that was a possibility,” he said. “The way I put it to people, it didn’t occur to me not to jump down there.”
About 600 volts travel through the third rail on the Broad Street Line.
The woman seemed disoriented, he said, and wasn’t trying to get up. She was moaning when Runyan put his arms around her waist — holding her the way one would for the Heimlich maneuver — and dragged her back toward the platform. He remembered her asking where her cell phone was. He propped her up against the platform and other passengers pulled her up.
Then they grabbed Runyan.
“I put my arms up, people held onto my arms, my elbows, and my shoulders, and dragged me," he said. “They ended up saving me as much as I saved her.”
He suffered only scrapes on a shin. The whole experience took about 35 seconds, he said.
The northbound train arrived shortly afterward. Runyan boarded. In the moment, he said, he didn’t fully absorb the danger he risked by going after the woman.