By Matt Wilson, @WilsonSTComms
The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board recognized a South Bay man for a quick-thinking act that was truly heroic.
The Board, which manages Caltrain, presented Walter Wilson with a proclamation during its February meeting for saving the life of a woman whose car was struck on the tracks as an oncoming train approached her vehicle in Sunnyvale on January 11.
While driving to Home Depot, Mr. Wilson said he rolled up near the Sunnyvale Avenue grade crossing where he saw the vehicle stuck on the tracks. He got out of his own car to check whether someone was inside the vehicle.
Mr. Wilson discovered that the driver was, in fact, sitting inside the car and warned her of trains passing through the area. Within a minute of speaking to the elderly driver, Mr. Wilson saw the distinctive bright lights of a train quickly approaching the vehicle.
He was able to unbuckle the woman’s seatbelt, remove her from the vehicle, and pull her to safety seconds before northbound train #277 made impact with the car, thereby saving another community member’s precious life.
Mr. Wilson was formally commended by the Board for his “heroic act of kindness, for his strong belief in humanity, and for all the good he does in various communities as a long-time Bay Area activist.”
“Lot of things happened that day in that spot that were unusual. I was really meant to be there,” Mr. Wilson said in remarks after receiving the proclamation. “This was bigger than me.”
Board Chair Jeannie Bruins also noted that not only did Mr. Wilson save the woman’s life, but his actions also made life-altering impacts on the woman’s family, everyone else in her life, the train conductor, passengers and many others.
Mr. Wilson received a boisterous standing ovation from the Board and those in attendance for the meeting. He took the opportunity to highlight the many small things Americans do to make an impact on the lives of fellow every day citizens.
“The climate in this country has been very divisive and I would say that we make America what it is… each and every day the things we do as individuals, we make this country what it is,” he said at the conclusion of his remarks.
Mr. Wilson, who is a noted Bay Area civil-rights advocate and member of the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet of Silicon Valley among others, also shared his story with The Mercury News the day after the incident.