Clarke’s quick thinking saves passengers
By Stephen Kirck II
Special to the Voice
A year earlier, he was creating havoc for the Notre Dame football team as lineman on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Well, on his way home from RPI for Thanksgiving Recess a year later, West Haven native Rueben Clarke helped prevent havoc, and saved injuries and maybe lives in the process.
How? Quick thinking and gut instinct.
Clark was traveling on Amtrak from Albany, NY heading south to Penn Station when two cars broke free. That’s when Clarke went to work.
“The car from the back of the train was like leaving us, and I saw sparks and stuff like that and a huge gust of wind,” Clarke, an offensive lineman on the RPI football team and 2018 graduate of Notre Dame High School in West Haven, told CBS 6 News in Albany. “So I just calmed myself down, and I was like, we have to stop the train and make sure everyone was fine.”
As luck would have it, no injuries were reported, the car did not derail, and all the passengers made their way to another train to continue their journey. Almost 300 passengers were on board when the train left around 7:30 pm Thanksgiving Eve.
Clarke “saved our lives tonight,” Helen Mark Crane told CNN. “Our car broke off from the rest of the train and was picking up speed. There was no Amtrak personnel in our car. Reuben calmly went into action and pulled the emergency brake at the front of the car. Thankful he was on the train with my son and me.”
“We were appreciative of Rueben’s efforts as a student-athlete over the last four years,” said Notre Dame Athletic Director Jason Shea. “But, this trumps anything he did wearing the green and gold. His quick thinking and actions are to be commended. To say we are proud is a huge understatement.”
Notre Dame head football coach Joe DeCaprio echoed those sentiments.
“He was in the right place at the right time so many times last year for us on the football field and wrestling mat. This was ultimate right place right time moment,” he said. “His quick thinking and actions speak volumes to the type of man he is. There’s no telling what would have happened if he didn’t do what he did. He’s a hero in my eyes.”
Clarke, who was a key member of both the football team and wrestling teams last year at Notre Dame, was coming home for Thanksgiving recess from RPI in Albany, NY. He spent the fall on the football team as a reserve offensive lineman. He appeared in five games as the team went 11-1 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division III national tournament.