MTA New York City Transit Employees Earn Medals of Excellence Awards

During a recent ceremony at Transit headquarters, 39 MTA New York City Transit employees were honored with Medals and Certificates of Excellence for their roles in aiding customers and fellow workers in time of trouble.

Photo of MTA awards ceremony

The employees were awarded medals and commendations for specific acts of bravery and quick response to a situation that endangered others. The acts were merely the latest in what has long been a NYC Transit tradition of helping others when they are in need.

"I am humbled to honor 39 MTA NYC Transit employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, putting their personal safety on the line to help others. I am proud but certainly not surprised that these heroes are MTA employees," said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast offering congratulations for Transit workers for their quick-thinking and fast action in rendering assistance to those in need.

"There is nothing more important than the safety of our customers and our employees, and as I look around, no one could be prouder to be the leader of such a team of selfless and dedicated workers," he added.

Medals for heroism were presented to employees who performed specific acts of bravery on and off the job.

On December 17th, 2010 Collecting Agent Carlos Betancourt, aided by three customers, saved Bronx musician Jerome Billings who lost control of his motorized wheelchair before it plunged off the platform at the 125th Street Station on the Lexington Avenue Line.

Noticing the commotion, Betancourt raced along the platform and then jumped down onto the tracks to help left the 300-plus pound Billings back onto the platform, sustaining a leg injury in the process.

Station Cleaner Fermin Mariana also found himself in the position of having to descend the 4 ½ feet to the roadbed on the L Line at DeKalb Avenue to assist an injured customer. In this August 20th incident, Mariana, acting alone, shut off power and then lifted a bleeding and disoriented customer back onto the platform from which he had fallen.

Group Nomination- Department of Buses

Jeffrey Birch (College Point)
Emmanuel Booker (College Point)
Roger Weckworth (College Point)
John Simpson (College Point)
Timothy Killian (College Point)
Thomas Jordan (Fresh Pond)
Charles Dagis
Brett D. Bellamy
Joseph Kennedy
Joseph Maddaloni
Chris Panzarella
James Chadwick
Paul Rodriguez
Anna Peck

This group nomination for employees from Department of Buses cited professionalism and compassion as they evacuated the homebound and sick from nursing homes and hospitals in the Rockaways as Hurricane Irene bore down on New York City. Given the amount of flooding that occurred, undoubtedly lives were spared by the actions of these employees.

The following employees earned commendations for job-related acts involving personal risk or requiring exceptionally good judgment:

Kevin Jones, Maintenance Supervisor I, Third Rail Operations and William McGlenn, Power Distribution Maintainer who, while heading to work, were approached by customers at the 74th Street station in Queens about a child whose foot was caught in an escalator. McGlenn held the child to prevent additional injury, while Jones contacted Maintenance of Way Control and requested emergency services. Both employees stayed on location until the child was freed from the escalator and treated by EMS.

On June 29th, 2011 at Prospect Park on the Q Line, Station Agent Charmaine Brown refused to let a pair of would-be robbers into her booth even as they tried to set it on fire with her trapped inside. The men, wearing bandanas over their faces, doused the booth with gasoline and ignited it. Acting quickly, Station Agent Brown grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the fire before calling police. She was removed to Methodist Hospital for smoke inhalation and trauma.

In yet another incident of quick thinking and assertive action, Station Agent Marty Goodman cut third rail power in a tunnel as a man walked toward an oncoming train in the 86th Street Station on the B and C Lines, thwarting the man's suicide. He had heard a man yelling and saw him jump onto the tracks. When the man ignored his pleas over a station loudspeaker, Goodman dialed for emergency help, and then bolted from his booth to persuade the bloodied man to come back onto the platform. But with a train approaching Goodman cut power to the third rail.

Group Nomination -; MOW Power Substation

Kevin Olsen, Power Maintainer B
Jaime Cueva, Maintenance Supervisor 1
Reji George, Maintainer Helper C
Shumshun Nurilov, Electrical Helper
V. Tsekmanovich, Electrical Helper
Henry Ouyoung, Power Maintainer B
Lamont Smith, Electrical Apprentice

These employees are credited with saving the life of a coworker by recognizing that he was suffering a heart attack and quickly calling for medical attention. While in the locker room, William Walter reported that he had pains in his left hand and chest and felt dizzy. Power Maintainer Kevin Olson called 911, and his coworkers comforted Walter until EMS arrived. Hospital officials later confirmed that Walter had suffered a heart attack.

William Allen, Bus Operator

At 4 a.m. on October 20, 2010, Bus Operator William Allen saw a toddler standing on the street corner shivering and barefoot, wearing nothing but his underwear. As he walked over to the child, the little boy extended his arms and started to cry. William Allen retrieved the two-year old, carried him over to the bus and called 911. When officers from the 104th Precinct arrived, they started knocking on doors until they found an open apartment. There were no adults inside, but another child: a sleeping one-year old. A neighbor summoned the boy's father, and NYPD handled it there from there.

Andrew McConnell, Special Inspector, Security

On February 15, 2011 while off-duty, McConnell corralled three teen bandits inside the 191st Station. McConnnell was on a northbound No. 1 train when they snatched an iPhone from his hand. He ran after the three, who jumped into an elevator filled with about a dozen customers. McConnell flashed his badge and licensed firearm and directed everyone but the accused bandits off the elevator. He told the elevator operator to call police. The teens were charged with grand larceny and criminal possession.

Group Nomination -; EAGLE Team

Carlos Padro, Special Inspector
Richard Cummins, Special Inspector
Roberto Perez, Special Inspector
Arthur Bianchini, Special Inspector Supervisor

On March 24, while conducting M15 fare inspections at the corner of Grand & Allen Streets in Manhattan, this team heard a man screaming for help. He was chasing another man who had just assaulted him. The inspectors gave chase and tried to apprehend the perpetrator. As he fled the scene, the perpetrator assaulted two more men. Special Inspectors Padro and Cummins apprehended him at the corner of Ludlow & Broome Streets and detained him for the NYPD who responded and arrested him for 3rd degree assault.

Wilfredo Cespedes, Transit Property Protection Agent

On the night of March 9, 2011, two suspended employees approached Property Protection Agent Cespedes, who was assigned to the security post at the Gun Hill Depot. The suspended employees stated that they were at the depot to see the General Superintendent. He recognized them as subjects of an Access Alert. Knowing that the employees were wanted by the NYPD, Cespedes called 911, the Security Operations Center, and the General Superintendent. The subjects were detained by NYPD.

One Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to a veteran Transit employee in recognition of his special expertise in dealing with an ongoing problem. Special Inspector Patrick Romano is a 32-year Transit veteran. He has been responsible for restitution from graffiti and vandalism offenses in the subway system. To date, the MTA has collected more than $1 million due to his efforts. He has also been instrumental in assisting the NYPD in the prosecution of graffiti vandals. His expertise has also made him invaluable as an expert witness in grand jury proceeding and Supreme Court cases.

Nominations for potential honorees were sent to our Employee Recognition Program Committee, which selected the honored employees that met the committee's criteria in the above mentioned categories.