FORT PIERCE — Joseph DaSilva II and his friend Alex Bona say they had a good reason for breaking curfew Friday night.
The John Carroll Catholic High School students said they were with friends leaving Friday Fest in downtown Fort Pierce when the driver of the car they were in made a wrong turn trying to find the municipality’s public parking garage.
That wrong turn may have saved a man’s life.
“When we got to the end of the street, we could see the lights and heard the bells ringing at the railroad crossing,” said DaSilva, 16. “My friend Julia said, ‘Oh my God, there’s someone on the railroad tracks.’”
While stopped at the railroad crossing, Bona and DaSilva, both from Port St. Lucie, said they saw a motorized wheelchair and an immobile older man slumped by the railroad tracks. The friends quickly sprang into action, even though a train was approaching and within their sights.
We sort of just ran out there to get him away from the tracks,” said Alex Bona, 16. “It feels pretty good, but I am sure anyone in my position would have done the same thing.”
DaSilva, Bona and another friend picked up the man, who was unable to walk, and moved his motorized wheelchair to a safe area before the train could hit them.
“We put him in his wheelchair and maybe 15 seconds later, the train passed,” DaSilva said. “The train stopped later and then people started to come see what was going on.”
The teens said paramedics and law enforcement came to the scene and attended to the man they describe as being in his late 50s or early 60s. DaSilva said the group of friends didn’t ask the man for his name.
Fort Pierce police spokeswoman Audria Moore said she could not verify or discount Bona and DaSilva’s story.
“Our only role in all of this was as standby,” Moore said.
St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman Catherine Chaney said when paramedics arrived, the man was back in his wheelchair and refused medical attention. She was unable to provide the name of the wheelchair-bound man or his medical condition because of medical privacy laws.
“The gentleman declined transport to the hospital,” Chaney said.
Joseph DaSilva’s mother Judy DaSilva said she was “overwhelmed” when she heard the story.
“He’s a good kid,” she said. “It didn’t surprise me that he acted that way, because that’s how he was brought up. I am overcome with pride of course.”
Her husband shared the same sentiments.
“I feel like all the morals and values we instilled in him came true,” said father Joseph DaSilva. “We constantly tell him to do the right thing.”
Kim Bona, mother of Alex Bona, said she was “stunned” when her son told her about the Friday night incident.
“I am very proud of him,” she said. “It was a little scary to hear about it after the fact.”
The teens said the incident occurred at the intersection of Avenue A and North Depot Road.
“At first I called and wanted to know why he was late getting home,” DaSilva’s father said. “When he told me the story, I said it was the best excuse I ever heard for being late for curfew.”