A 34-year-old Indian-origin man exhibited his courage after he saved his co-worker from an oncoming train but was robbed of his bag when he jumped onto the tracks to help her.
Anil Vannavalli, a data administrator, was waiting for his train to work to Manhattan on Friday morning when 26-year-old Madhuri Recherla fell onto the tracks at the Edison train station.
Anil, who came to the US 10 years ago, dropped his laptop bag on the platform and went to rescue her; his bag was stolen and is still missing.
Vannavalli said his backpack contained his laptop computer and headphones, valued at USD 700, about USD 200 in cash, and his work identification card, police said.
"How can they do this in this situation? I felt very bad," Vannavalli said.
Recherla later said she fainted because she did not eat or drink so she could get to the train station on time. She was taken to the hospital with a fractured knee and broken ankle.
Vannavalli said it was only a matter of minutes before he and another commuter moved the woman off the tracks, saving her from an oncoming train.
The Edison Township Police Department is combing through security camera footage to find the thief behind the deed.
"This theft, perpetrated in the midst of such a selfless good deed, seems so very disgusting and outrageous," Police Chief Thomas Bryan said in a statement.
Vannavalli said he couldn't believe someone would rob him as he was saving another person's life.
"We know these things happen off and on but not in this moment. When someone is going to save a life, how can he think about stealing?" Vannavalli said.
"You should be ready to help anyone in any situation... it's humanity," he said.
A campaign has been initiated by residents and friends of New Jersey to reimburse Anil as an appreciation and gratitude for his lifesaving act.
You can contribute here: https://www.gofundme.com/anil-vannavalli-appreciation-fund