Donald Mahoney, a Levittown resident, was honored by AT&T on March 19, for saving a man's life in a New York City subway station.
Mahoney, a communication technician who has worked with AT&T for the past 18 years, will receive the company's distinguished Vail Award in a ceremony at the company's New York Headquarters. Mahoney has not only been honored with a silver medal, but with a $10,000 cash award.
This money comes from a special fund for the Vail Award and is sponsored by AT&T. The award was established in 1920 in honor of AT&T's first president Theodore N. Vail. According to Christopher Ming-Ryan, a representative for the company, the criteria for receiving this award is going beyond what is normally expected of a civic minded individual under the circumstances, saving a human life, taking initiative, and running the risk of acute distress, injury, or death. He sums up that it is based on "judgment, initiative, resourcefulness, courage and fortitude."
Mahoney met these criteria when, on May 16, 1997, he noticed a man fall from the edge of the subway platform, onto the tracks, where he hit his head and began instantly bleeding. Without hesitation, Mahoney jumped the five feet onto the tracks to aid the man. Within seconds, Mahoney heard the train about to come into the station. Mahoney attempted to pull the man onto the platform, but was unable to. At this point a woman on the platform ran to get help. A policeman arrived, and waved a flashlight to signal the train to make an emergency stop. The victim started to come to and, not realizing what he was doing, began crawling towards the third rail, towards electrocution. Mahoney was able to get him to realize what he was doing and pulled him away from the high voltage rail. Another man jumped down to the tracks and helped Mahoney get the man up to the platform. Mahoney says "I did what anybody would have done in that situation. I didn't think about it, I just jumped right in." He says that he was very relieved when he saw that the man was able to climb into the ambulance by himself. Mahoney attempted to get information about how the victim was doing from the hospital but they would not release that information to people who were not family.
Over the last decade fewer than 30 Vail awards have been given by AT&T in recognition of lifesaving acts. Since the award was established more than 2,700 employees and retirees have received this award commemorating noteworthy public service. In order to receive this award an employee of the company must be nominated by a co-worker, usually a supervisor. When asked how he felt about receiving this award Mahoney responded "I'm ecstatic. It is a wonderful honor. I work for a great company."