Strangers leap onto train tracks to save man in wheelchair

Gary Stapleton and his wife Sue had been having a wretched week.

Days earlier, the Melbourne couple's grandson had suddenly died and they were left feeling hollowed out by their grief.

Casting about for anything to take their mind off things, the pair decided to take a trip to Moonee Ponds and spend some time by the lake watching the ducks.

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CCTV shows Gary Stapleton on the platform of Jacana Station on April 16.

But when they got to the local train station, at Jacana in the city's north, on that day – April 16 – things took another unexpected and traumatic turn.

Both Gary and Sue need an electric wheelchair to get around.

Gary, 62, has been using a wheelchair for the past two years after being diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease.

Travelling along the platform at Jacana Station, Gary suddenly lost control of his wheelchair.

"He wasn't concentrating, we had just lost our grandson, we couldn't concentrate," Sue said.

CCTV vision, obtained from the Department of Transport by, shows Gary in his electric wheelchair abruptly veering to the right and tipping off the edge of the platform, falling onto the tracks below.

CCTV footage shows Gary Stapleton on the platform of Jacana Station in Melbourne.

"I just screamed, 'help, help', I didn't know what else to do," Sue, who was also on the platform in her wheelchair at the time, said.

Within seconds, two bystanders came running.

Pausing only to put their belongings onto a nearby bench, both of the men jumped down onto the tracks and lifted Gary back up onto the platform.

Meanwhile, rail workers in the nearby control centre at Broadmeadows Station saw the accident unfolding on CCTV in real time.

Staff immediately advised Metro's central train control and stopped trains in the area, including one approaching the station.

Over the next five minutes, several other commuters on the platform also rushed to Gary's aid.

The group worked together to heave his heavy electric wheelchair back onto the platform.

Sue said she was extremely thankful to all of the people who stepped in to save her husband.

"I would just like to say thank you very much and I'm very grateful for what they did," she said.

Lisa Gibson is pictured with her dad Gary Stapleton. The family hopes they can find the strangers who helped him and say thank you.

While she and her husband had experienced many frustrating moments in their wheelchairs, none had been as terrifying as this, Sue said. 

"The train stations are not built for wheelchairs," she said.

"You have to be so careful when you go past the chairs because there is not really enough room on the platform."

Sue and Gary's daughter, Lisa Gibson, said the family was hoping to speak to the strangers who rushed to his aid, but had no way of contacting them.

"I would like to reach out and thank them for saving my dad," she said, adding she hoped they would see this article and get in touch.

Were you involved in Gary's rescue? Contact reporter Emily McPherson at

Metro Trains Melbourne General Manager Safety Operations Adrian Rowland also thanked the commuters for their selfless actions.

"We thank the bystanders that were able to come to the aid of this man and help him back onto the platform," he said.

"Safety is our number one priority and following the accident we stopped trains immediately to ensure the gentleman could be attended to safely."

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