BROCKTON — A drunken brawl had left a man sprawled on the train tracks, bleeding and so groggy he could not move, witnesses said. And a train was coming fast.
But on the platform Saturday evening, people leapt into action, screaming and waving for the onrushing train to stop. Witnesses said two passengers jumped onto the tracks and moved toward the train to catch the conductor’s attention. Somehow, the conductor was able to stop, just 50 feet from the injured man, Mark Souza.
“It was very heroic on everyone’s part,” said Sheryl Thomas, 53, who said she helped wave down the train from the platform. “Everyone actually came together as a community to care for someone who was in distress, and basically saved his life.”
On Tuesday, a former professional boxer was charged with punching the 48-year-old man in the brawl, knocking him onto the tracks.
Prosecutors said Daniel Sheehan, 41, has a long history of assaults, and that this time he had “nearly killed a man.”
Sheehan was charged with assault to murder and was ordered held on $25,000 bail. His bail on a previous assault case was revoked.
“His criminal record dates back to 1995,” Christopher Fiorentino, an assistant district attorney in Plymouth County, said in Brockton District Court. Sheehan is due back in court Oct. 2 for a probable cause hearing.
Sheehan’s lawyer, Jacob Sheinhite, denied the charges, describing the incident as “just a fight that had very bad consequences.”
Witnesses told police that Sheehan and Souza spoke for several minutes on the platform before an argument broke out. Sheehan allegedly then swung at Souza, but missed.
In retaliation, Souza tried to kick Sheehan, but missed as well, according to the police report. Both men then paused, before Sheehan punched Souza in the face, sending him flying off the platform and down to the tracks, where he hit his head on the rails.
Both men appeared to be very intoxicated, witnesses said.
Police said it was not clear if they knew each other. Souza could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
After the brawl, Sheehan looked down at Souza from the edge of the platform, seemingly stunned by what had happened, witnesses said. Since Sheehan’s balance was poor, people worried he was going to fall onto the tracks himself.
“He was just so out of it,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t seem like he knew what he had just done.”
Thomas said she was heartened by how quickly passengers responded and was amazed the train was able to stop in time.
“There was no thought process, it was just all reaction on everyone’s behalf,” she said. “And thank God it worked out.”
Two Brockton police officers at the station also helped flag down the train.
Michael Turner, 21, of Brockton, said he was waiting for the train when he heard Souza fall to the tracks. He tried to pull him up, but could not reach him.
“He was too far away,” Turner said. “He was unconscious and I could see blood coming down.”
Turner said he and another passenger jumped onto the tracks and waved down the train.
He said he was not worried about the train hitting him and was more concerned he would not be able to stop it in time.
Turner said Sheehan tried to leave once police arrived, but was stopped by another person on the platform.
“I don’t think he was conscious of what was going on,” he said. “I think a part of him knew what he had done, but I think he was a little too far gone to understand the consequences.”Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.