Woman Survives the Ultimate Subway Nightmare

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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29:  Commuters walk to their subway August 29, 2011 in New York City. One day after Hurricane Irene hit New York the mass transit system, including subways and buses, began moving again in a limited capacity in time for Monday's rush hour.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Raedle/2011 Getty Images

One of the classic New York City neuroses involves worrying about falling onto the subway tracks thanks to an errant high heel or a silly slip. Or worse, being pushed by some harried or crazy fellow commuter. It's a fairly common scenario, too: in 2009 alone, there were 40 deaths from 90 incidents in which people fell onto the tracks. On Tuesday night, that became a scary reality for Bronx resident Patricia Villa, who was just waiting for the 6 train when out of nowhere and for no discernible reason a man jumped on Villa and pushed her to the tracks. No altercation beforehand, no discernible motive, just mere malice, it seems.

After a brief blackout, she woke up on the third rail with the train bearing down and blood on her head.But Villa, a Columbian immigrant, survived that absolutely terrifying scenario, thanks to fellow students from her ESL class, who pulled her up out of the tracks. The train came just then — luckily, it was running express, not on the local tracks she'd fallen on.Her attacker, meanwhile, ran out of the station, followed by another of Villa's classmates, Luis Polanco, who caught up with the man enough to punch him in the back, but stopped his pursuit to help with the Villa rescue mission.

“I think my [recently deceased] mom saved me,” she told the Daily News, in a moving quote that we nonetheless hope the classmates who actually saved her didn't read. “She’s my angel.” (Luckily, she also added, "“I thank God that I woke up and that my classmates were there.")

Villa received six stitches at a nearby hospital and is doing fine, other than some wooziness and numbness — about the happiest ending you could hope for in a scary story like this one.