Experts sometimes fail us. Police officers and firemen can't be everywhere at once. Fortunately, on those rare occasions when qualified individuals can't be found, a random nobody is sometimes waiting in the wings, ready to toe-kick fate in the genitals and save the day.
#6. The Construction Worker Who Dove Under a Subway to Save a Man
Wesley Autrey was a 50-year-old construction worker and Navy veteran living in New York City.
Autrey was waiting on the subway platform with his kids when a man named Cameron Hollopeter (which is the porniest name since Big Dick Gigglefist) fell to the floor and began convulsing. Autrey and two other bystanders went to Hollopeter's aid and brought him back to his feet -- which is exactly what you don't want to do. Sure enough, Hollopeter took a few steps and fell right off the platform and onto the tracks below just as the train started to roll in, setting the scene for a spectacular obituary.
"Cameron Hollopeter: Lived fast, died at about 63 mph."
With no real plan in mind, since the seconds it would take to develop a plan would be just enough time for Hollopeter to be erased by the train, Autrey jumped onto the tracks, not wanting his two daughters to witness the horrific squishing of a human being via train. At first, he tried moving Hollopeter back onto the platform, but the man's convulsing hadn't stopped, making him impossible to lift out of harm's way in time. Luckily, a narrow trench in the center of the rails caught Autrey's eye.
It was little more than a shallow drainage gutter and probably didn't look anywhere close to big enough to shelter a man from a speeding train that was about to come roaring overhead. Autrey, of course, didn't have time to get out his measuring tape, so he just rolled Hollopeter into the trench and lay on top of him to try and keep him from flopping around. There was nothing else for him to do but hope the combined height of his body on top of Hollopeter's would be low enough to miss being fatally shaved off like Italian ice.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet No. 1 on Cracked's list of "Worst Times to Pop a Boner."
The train's operator saw them laying right there between the tracks and hit the brakes, but the subway didn't come to a full stop until two cars had passed over them. To the witnesses on the platform (most notably Autrey's young children), it appeared that the two men locked in a life or death man-hug had most likely been crushed.
But amazingly, they were alive. The train cleared the men by about two inches -- close enough that grease from the underside of the train stained Autrey's hat.
"Would I do it again? No way, I was dumb. That was my favorite hat."
Autrey was honored by every politician in the immediate area and showered with rewards, which included a trip to see Ellen DeGeneres and $10,000 directly from Donald Trump. Through it all, Autrey remained humble, and like Rocky in whatever sequel you're thinking of, he kind of grew disillusioned with the whole hero thing.
"Disillusionment" here bears a striking resemblance to "pimping."
#5. The Chinese Bureaucrat Who Caught a Woman as She Fell from a Window
Guo Zhongfan was a local community officer (the bureaucratic kind, not the police officer kind) and the director at the Xinfa Community Administration Office in China.
A 22-year-old woman, identified only as Miss Li, was rejected by her fiance after a four-year relationship only days before their wedding. Of course, it wasn't just because he didn't love her, but because he had fallen in love with somebody else and decided to marry her instead. More than a little upset, Miss Li put on her wedding dress (because hey, she'd bought it already, so she might as well wear it) and climbed out of a seventh floor window of her apartment building, intent on ending it all.
The tension in this photo is lessened slightly when you realize she'd probably float like Mary Poppins.
She got all the way out and actually let go of the ledge, beginning her deadly free fall, when the strong, rough hands of Zhongfan snatched her out of the air.
And thus, an incredibly dangerous new fetish was born.
Miss Li struggled ironically against the cyborglike grip keeping her alive, but Zhongfan held fast, with a stern look of determination on his face that seemed to say "No way is this shit happening on my watch."
He looks like he beat Death in a staring contest.
With the help of another man on the floor below pushing up on the bride's feet, Zhongfan pulled her back inside to safety. When he was interviewed later, Zhongfan merely said, "I did what anyone would have done." Which seems to suggest that showing up out of nowhere and rescuing people from the crushing weight of mortal despair is business as usual in his province. Actually, now that we mention it ...
#4. The Window Cleaner Who Stops Suicides as a Hobby
Keith Lane is a middle-aged window cleaner and widower in England.
Lane lost his wife when she fell, or more likely jumped, off the East Sussex Cliffs. Beachy Head, as the cliffs are more commonly known, is a depressingly popular spot for people wanting to kill themselves, witnessing an estimated 20 suicides per year.
"Well, I don't really want to kill myself ... but when am I going to be here again?"
Lane's wife, Maggie, had been one of those suicides in 2004. Since he couldn't save her, Lane began patrolling the cliffs daily, looking for other distraught souls at the end of their (proverbial) ropes.
Completely untrained in counseling, Lane has so far managed to prevent 29 people from leaping off the cliff. In his first year of punching suicide in the face, he received a Royal Humane Society Award for tackling a woman about to go over the edge, which sort of explains the "untrained in counseling" bit. More recently, he found another woman clinging to the cliff face about 15 feet down from the edge and actually climbed down to retrieve her, saving her life and earning a shitload of criticism from the local suicide prevention group, the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team (BHCT), because apparently they are unclear on the meaning of the word "prevention."
"Look, grown adults commit to things. You're just a big baby."
The BHCT claim that Lane's rogue suicide prevention efforts endanger the lives of the people trying to kill themselves. Whether he bought that argument or not, Lane has since scaled back his patrols from two to three times daily to once per day, because he didn't "like the confrontations," a phrase which here means "I don't have time for their ridiculous bullshit, I'm trying to save people from jumping off this here cliff."
This man couldn't look more British if he was holding a tea kettle and wearing nothing but a Union Jack.