NYC's ‘superman' local native

Published 1:55 am Monday, January 8, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean- publisher
He is the man known to New York City this week as &#8220superman,” but Brewton resident Mattie Barksdale can say she knew her nephew Wesley Autrey when.
Autrey, a 50-year-old New York resident and Brewton native, saved the life of a 20-year-old stranger Tuesday when he threw himself on top of the man after the younger man fell onto the subway tracks.
But Barksdale is also shocked her relative - a boy she used to baby-sit when she was just out of high school and visiting New York - is garnering nationwide attention.
Autrey appeared on David Letterman's &#8220The Late Show” Thursday night and has been featured in news stories across the country. Newspaper headlines have hailed him as a &#8220hero” and a &#8220superman.”
Autrey's family back home found out about the story the same way most other Americans did - on TV.
According to reports, the rescue happened in a split second. Barksdale, who was waiting for the subway with his two young daughters, rushed with two other women to help Cameron Hollopeter when he apparently had a seizure near the tracks. They steadied him on his feet, but moments later Hollopeter fell onto the tracks.
Autrey leapt after him, pinning Hollopeter in a space between the tracks and covering the young man's body with his own. The subway, already trying to screech to a halt, passed over them with mere inches to spare. Autrey walked away; Hollopeter was treated in a hospital for bumps and bruises.
Since the rescue, Autrey has received $10,000 from Donald Trump, free subway fare for a year and the promise of a trip to Disney World for his family; on Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave him the city's highest civic award.
Barksdale praised her nephew, a Navy veteran, as a strong person with a good sense of humor. But the magnitude of his deed is overwhelming.
Autrey lived in Brewton until he was about 12 and attended W.S. Neal, his aunt said.
He is the son of Mary Louise Autrey of New York, a preacher, and Robery Autrey of Castleberry, and the grandson of Julie Lee of Brewton.
Barksdale last saw her nephew in New York about five or six years ago; she expects the subway story to be part of family lore for years to come.
She remembers baby-sitting Autrey and his three siblings when they were children.
But she's certainly proud of the man he has become.