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Philip Buckenmeyer
Professional Studies Building, Room 1164
Phone: 607-753-4300
Fax: 607-753-5596
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Graduate's Act Marks Year of Heroism in NYC

A recent national news story that detailed some of New York City’s most heroic acts in 2013 spotlighted Dennis Codrington ’12, a young SUNY Cortland graduate who played a key role in a daring subway rescue in February.

The personal trainer, who lives in New York City, jumped into action along with two others when a stranger fell several feet off a subway platform and was knocked unconscious, according to a recent Associated Press story celebrating a year that saw several Good Samaritans save the lives of strangers while risking their own.

“I was just sitting there talking with my friends and everything seemed normal,” said Codrington, a former kinesiology: fitness development major who was on his way home from a birthday party and changing trains at the Columbus Circle station in the early morning Feb. 17. “There was this one guy, it didn’t seem like he was with anybody. He was just there by himself and it looked like something was wrong.

“From what we could tell, he got a little too close to the tracks and just tumbled in.”

Many onlookers panicked and a few screamed, Codrington said.

He saw another young man, Garrett O’Hanlon, jump down and make his way to the unconscious man on the tracks, located roughly six feet below the subway platform.

“He couldn’t pick (the victim) up by himself,” Codrington, 24, said. “I glanced at the clock and it said something like two minutes (until the subway train would arrive).”

That’s when Codrington’s impulses took over. He made the jump down to the track bed while O’Hanlon’s sister pleaded for them to hurry. Codrington’s friend, Matt Foley, joined them and together they lifted the unconscious man close enough to the subway platform so that others could pull him to safety.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Codrington said. “We saw (subway train) lights and everything like that, but it all happened really quickly.”

Dennis Codrington '12
Dennis Codrington '12 has been in the spotlight this year for his courageous, split-second action to save a stranger. 

Each of the three rescuers reached up to the subway platform and they were pulled up with relative ease.

“I’m a personal trainer, so I stay fairly fit,” said Codrington who works for the Equinox chain of fitness facilities in New York City.

He joined a small group that stayed with the man until first responders arrived and answered questions from authorities and a reporter on scene. But even 10 months later, he still has not learned the man’s identity or any other details about him.

“We still don’t know what happened to him,” Codrington said.

In the days that followed, he repeated his account to several media outlets. As it turns out, it was one of at least a dozen heroic New York City rescues in 2013, according to the recent Associated Press story. Friends, family members and even complete strangers called Codrington soon after to offer words of praise.

For Codrington, however, the experience was a blur.

On the train to his Washington Heights home following the rescue, he noticed a large cut on his hand that still was bleeding.

“Shortly afterwards, I asked myself: ‘What just happened?’” Codrington said. “I didn’t even realize I had injured my hand.

“I guess there just was a lot of adrenaline pumping through me at the time.”