Martin Diaz of Islandia was greeted with applause Friday morning as he stepped onto the train platform in Central Islip to catch the 7:26 a.m. to Penn Station.
Two days earlier, Diaz came to the aid of a woman who the MTA said fell on the tracks after being punched in the face.
“I just felt so bad for her,” Diaz, of Islandia, told News 12 Long Island in an interview before boarding the train. “It could have been my wife, or it could have been my sister.”
Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officers on Thursday arrested the man accused of striking the woman, 28, of Smithtown, as she waited for her train around 7:25 a.m. Wednesday, according to officials.
Troy Liddell, 34, of Central Islip, was charged with reckless endangerment and assault, officials said. He was to be arraigned Friday.
MTA officials and witnesses said the assault happened after the victim inadvertently knocked into the suspect on the platform.
“She accidentally bumped into the gentleman,” Usman Khan, a witness, told News 12 after the incident. “He said something and walked away. Came back and he hit her in the face, and she fell down face-first into the tracks.”
Diaz told News 12 Friday his “immediate reaction” was to help the woman, so he went on the tracks and got her.
Another witness, Abdul Rauf, told News 12 the woman was bleeding from her mouth and nose and had blood all over her clothes.
After assisting the woman Diaz thought, “I gotta go to work,” so he boarded the train.
“And then when I was sitting down on the train I realized my hands were full of blood” as was his sweater.
Fellow commuters gave him “wipees” so he could clean up, Diaz said.
Officials said the victim, meanwhile, was treated at a hospital and released.
With Mark Morales