Public reaches out to Indian-origin “Good Samaritan” whose backpack was stolen while saving co-worker on Edison train tracks

Anil Vandavalli of Piscataway, N.J., whose backpack with a laptop computer, expensive headphones, and cash, was stolen as he jumped onto the Edison station train tracks to save a co-worker who fainted and fell 6 feet down. Madhuri Recherla was saved seconds before a train rode into the station by her three Indian-origin friends. (Photo:

It seems good deeds do not go ill-rewarded after all these days. An Indian-origin man who jumped onto the tracks to save a co-worker who fainted, had his backpack stolen. But members of the public who read about the incident on the Edison Township Police Department Facebook site, are offering to buy him a replacement. And a Gofundme page has already been created to raise money for the victim of the robbery.

Police are looking for the person who stole the backpack of Anil Vannavalli, 34, who jumped onto the Edison train tracks with two other friends, to save co-worker Madhuri Recherla, 26, seconds before a train came into the station.

The Facebook site of the Edison Township Police Department details the events as they transpired on April 28 morning. Calling Vannavalli a “good Samaritan” police say the young man leaped onto the Central Avenue train station tracks to rescue the young woman had his backpack and laptop computer stolen while he helped her.

“This theft, perpetrated in the midst of such a selfless good deed, seems so very disgusting and outrageous,” Police Chief Thomas Bryan is quoted saying.

Recherla fainted a little after 7:40 a.m. off the platform onto the northbound tracks, according to Officer James Navas.

After Vannavalli jumped on to the tracks to carry Recherla to safety, someone stole his backpack which police said, contained his work ID, train tickets, a $700 laptop, $200 in cash, and some headphones.

Officers Navas and Lisa Cimmino arrived to help soon after and Recherla who was semi-conscious,  was taken to the Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center, in New Brunswick, for treatment.

The incident happened Friday, April 28 early morning as the friends, all of Indian descent, were waiting for a train to go to work.

Recherla is quoted in media reports saying she may have fainted as she had not eaten or drunk anything in her hurry to catch the train to get to work on time.

Vannavalli, a resident of Piscataway, in a television interview on News12, expressed surprise that someone would steal his backpack when he was trying to save a person’s life.

Recherla fell six feet off the platform before an oncoming train. She was taken to hospital after suffering a broken ankle and kneecap, according to news reports.

Comments on the Edison Police Facebook site show public anger over the incident, and even generosity.

A Margaret Ballewberrocales says, “That is the most horrible act I hope they catch the person who did such a thing.”

“Humanity at its best and worst,” says Keith Treich.

Nazeer Hussain Kizhakkedathu says, “If he is not getting his laptop back in reasonable time, I am willing to buy him a new laptop of his choice. His selfless act cannot go unrewarded.”

Another man, Patrick Amaral, says, “Nazeer… I will split the cost with you. Please message me.”

A Gofundme page has been created for Vannavalli ( to help raise funds for his loss, with a goal or raising $2000. It shows $795 has been raised by May 1 morning, most of it from people of Indian origin.




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