BART employee who saved man’s life is from Antioch and former Panthers football coach

John O’Connor and his wife, Tere.

By Luke Johnson

A man fell into the trackway – about 30 feet in front of an oncoming train – and a BART employee immediately thought:

“Oh, he ain’t gonna make it.”

However, the employee got on his knees and reached over the trackway – putting himself in harm’s way. He then grabbed the fallen man and pulled him to safety with inches to spare. This all happened in a matter of three seconds. (See BART video)

Photo courtesy of John O’Connor.

The hero: John O’Connor, 55, who has lived in Antioch for 28 years. He’s also a former assistant football coach for the Antioch High Panthers and has worked for BART for the past 24 years.

He was working at the Coliseum Station after the Oakland Raiders game Sunday, Nov. 3 to provide extra supervision for the overflowing postgame crowd – which was needed to say the least.

“That’s what I’m here for,” O’Connor said. “God was with us at that moment.”

He added that it doesn’t sound right to be called a hero, because people in the military, police and fire department save lives all the time and he doesn’t believe he belongs in that category.

It seemed a lot slower than it actually happened (on video), O’Connor said during a press conference. He came to the side, I figured he wasn’t going to make it so I grabbed him and pulled him up to the platform. That’s what we do. We got foreworkers, train operators, station agents who deal with this on a daily basis. We preach safety, and we practice it.

Although he may not identify as a hero, this Thursday the Raiders will honor him as one. The team will host him in front of the Thursday Night Football audience as this week’s “Hometown Hero.”

O’Connor during the press conference. Photo by BART.

BART said the young man who stumbled onto the trackway was intoxicated.

After O’Connor pulled the young man to safety, he lifted him from the ground, embraced him with a hug and said, “It’s OK.” Meanwhile, other BART riders cheered for O’Connor for saving the young man’s life.

The moment was captured on video and posted to Twitter – which quickly went viral and can be seen, here.

The story has been all over the news and has even garnered national attention. O’Connor said if it weren’t for that video, many people would not have known what happened, and it would have become “just another good drinkin’ story.”

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the attachments to this post:

BART hero video
BART hero video


OConnor BART


John O’Connor & AHS Panthers


John & Tere O’Connor


One Comment to “BART employee who saved man’s life is from Antioch and former Panthers football coach”

  1. Michelle says:

    Thank you Coach! I love the way you love your job at Bart.

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