On the evening of November 21, RPI freshman football player Reuben Clarke was heading home for Thanksgiving. He was on an Amtrak train traveling to New York City when something went wrong.
"I looked at the back of the train car and I see the car is detached and there was a huge load of panic," Clarke said.
In moments, the story broke across social media with live tweets from passengers. Train cars had broken free about 20 minutes after departing the Albany-Rensselaer train station.
Amid the panic, the 18-year-old quickly jumped into action.
"I was kind of scared myself, but luckily something just came into me to just try to control what you can control," Clarke said.
The biomedical engineering major swiftly found the emergency brake and stopped the train.
Clarke's heroic actions were honored by Troy Mayor Patrick Madden on Wednesday, as the RPI football team was recognized for its 2018 season in which it reached the NCAA Division III quarterfinals.
"It shows great leadership. It shows quick thinking skills. I'm very proud of him," Madden said.
No one was injured, and a recovery train eventually brought the passengers to Penn Station. Clarke says he didn't get home to Connecticut until 4 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
His coach called Clarke's action exactly what they are looking for in a football player.
"The people that he helped on that train, he was thinking more of the whole group rather than just trying to save himself," said RPI Head Football Coach Ralph Isernia.
Clarke was more than appreciative.
"Even for the team, overall we've done so many big things this year. It's just an honor to be recognized," Clarke said.