About 30 years ago, my wife, Risa, was on the commuter train headed downtown for an appointment with her gynecologist. Suddenly the conductor was scurrying into the car. He shouted, “Anybody know CPR? A baby isn’t breathing.” Risa was trained in CPR and loves babies.
She jumped to her feet and followed him to the screaming mother, who happened to be African American. Everyone else sat still as statues.
The baby was covered in blood. She weighed 5 lb and was three weeks old. A young guy was holding her in one hand and doing chest compressions with two fingers.
Risa rushed to the non-breathing infant, put her mouth over her tiny nose and mouth, and began the resuscitation process.
It was the height of the AIDS epidemic, which was killing thousands, but she had no time to think. Maybe she could save the baby girl, while her mom looked on screaming.
Risa didn’t know if the baby was still coughing up blood, but she kept up her breathing while the young guy pressed gently with his two fingers.
The train soon stopped, and the infant started to breathe again. A helicopter landed, and the baby and mother were taken by air to Children’s Memorial Hospital.
Risa stayed on the train, dumbstruck by the events. She then rushed to her appointment and recounted the story to her doctor. He called Children’s Memorial Hospital and requested HIV and hepatitis tests for the baby. She found out later they were negative.
Risa and I have discussed the events of that day quite a bit since we saw the story about Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old man on the New York subway train, hit the news. Penny, who is white, restrained Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old black man, who was allegedly threatening to kill everybody in the train car. Everybody else at the scene had been paralyzed with fear.
Penny is a former Marine underwater instructor. He grabbed the ranting Neely and put him in a chokehold. A young Hispanic man held Neely’s legs. Neely had a long history of mental illness after his mother was murdered in 2007. He was also homeless.
Penny’s chokehold resulted in Neely’s death. Two and a half weeks after the events on the subway train, Daniel Penny was charged with manslaughter. He turned himself into the New York City Police and raised bail.
The two stories of Risa and Penny are far from identical. The three-week-old baby survived. The mom has connected with Risa periodically on Facebook to say that the baby she saved became a wonderful daughter. She also reunited with Risa on the Jenny Jones Show, which had an episode about people who had saved lives. The train story is still a powerful and unsettling memory for her to this day.
Daniel Penny could serve 18 years in jail if he is convicted. Al Sharpton is using the train car incident as an example of American racism. Did Daniel Penny, an ex-Marine, think about the potential negative consequences when he grabbed the ranting Jordan Neely, who was supposedly threatening to kill everybody in the train car? I’m not sure he knew, if Risa’s story of impulsivity is any parallel. Maybe we will find out, if the case ever goes to trial. Maybe.
How do you feel about the New York train car episode? From what you have read or heard, should 24-year-old Daniel Penny serve time in prison?
What would you have done in a similar situation?
Question: What stories do you have about someone risking their life to help a stranger?
Maybe I’ve been living under a rock but am not familiar with the Penny story. However, I don’t think he should gone to the extreme of death to Neely. Loss of oxygen to passing out would have sufficed.
Not being familiar with the story, you might not know that by all accounts, he let go as soon as Neely stopped struggling. It is possible that the efforts of the black man and the Hispanic man who were assisting him in restraining Neely made it appear like he was struggling after he had passed out, which might be a contributing factor. It is also possible that there were other factors, genetic or pharmaceutical, that made what would appear to be a normal submission hold turn fatal.
What is clear is that neither Penny nor the other persons who were helping him contain what they all perceived as a threat intended to harm the man. Of course, if they were white, they would be charged as accomplices.
I notice that we’re not seeing the video leading up to the event. I wonder is that because it doesn’t exist or because it shows the only person involved who had a history of violence engaging in legitimately threatening behavior.
So long as severely mentally ill persons who commit violent assaults are left untreated and uncharged, they will continue to be at risk of harming themselves, harming others, and being harmed by others who chose to defend against their random aggression. Leaving them on the streets is not kind to them nor to anyone else.
I was not on the train. From what I have read – through various sources – Penny was not trying to kill the man and stopped when it appeared he had “passed out”. It seems is a fine edge between passing out and death. (this is one reason use of the choke hold is “restricted” for police officers.) There will be an investigation – it has already started. There were plenty of witnesses to the event. But only Penny can say what was going through his mind at the time. Unfortunately, Neely is unable to comment.
One can only hope that those witnesses are brave enough to step forward when Daniel comes to trial.
Danial Penny did the right thing. He should never have been charged. This is just another event that the race baiters can use keep their grievance industry going.
NYC is a violent city that has, if not in actuality, certainly in tone from the Mayor and the city Prosecutor, defunded and emasculated the police department. What’s left in the wake of this is an emboldened criminal element and an insecure civilian population that feels threatened enough to take matters into their own hands, or not, which leads us to Mr. Penny, a guy that steps up to what apparently could not be determined at the moment to be anything other than a flight or fight situation and Mr. Penny decided to fight. Any reasonable person would not walk into a subway car, threaten people with bodily harm and not expect that all or at least one of those people would try eliminate the threat. Too many people are considering themselves helpless bystanders, sheep in the midst of wolves, Mr. Penny is a shepherd.
Daniel Penny is an American hero for protecting everyone in that subway car. The fact that he is being vilified shows the depths this country has sunken to. I weep for the children that will have to live in this world after I am passed.
Verbally threaten to kill everyone present= The possibility that your threat will be believable enough that you are dealt the ultimate consequence. Death threat resulted in his own demise. Life’s tough. Even tougher if you make bad choices.
I was hoping to hear from or about other life savers and what you would have done in a similar case to Penny’s.