NEW YORK: In an unusual in-flight rescue, a 21-year-old Indian-American student who lost his father in the 9/11 attack here has come to the aid of a stricken attorney of the alleged Pakistani planner of the world's deadliest terror strike.
Tufts University senior Robert Mathai provided first- responder service aboard a flight from Camp Justice at Guantanamo Bay to Army Captain Brian Nicholson, an Army lawyer for mastermind of the 9/11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Nicholson had suddenly collapsed on a recent war court airplane shuttle, prompting someone put out a call for medical assistance over the plane's speaker system.
Mathai checked 33-year-old Nicholson's pulse, talked to him and tended to him for about an hour before landing at Andrews Air Force Base and handing him off to an ambulance crew on February 14, 'Miami Hearld' reported yesterday.
"I didn't really do anything super impressive, just obtained vitals and tried to figure out what was going on, and gave oxygen," Mathai said.
His father Joseph Mathai, a tech executive, had died in the terror attacks on the World Trade Center here. He was among nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks, many of them first responders.
Nicholson is fine and back at work as part of the death- penalty defense team of Mohammed, the Pakistani man who once boasted that he was responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks "from A to Z."
Mohammed is jailed in Guantanamo, a US military prison.
Nicholson, the officer Mathai treated, says he was "absolutely grateful that Robert was there," describing the moment of realisation at who was treating him as "nothing short of amazement."
Mathai was just 8 when his father died. He had become a volunteer EMT at Tufts, where he studies economics and philosophy.
Mathai says he does not aspire to become a doctor.
He said he was probably drawn to it because of the loss of his father — who was attending a conference at the World Trade Center when the al-Qaeda terrorists struck the WTC.
"Robert is a very compassionate man," Teresa, his mother said. "This is one way for him to be able to help people. When something bad happens you don't want to feel helpless. He was happy to be in the right place at the right time."
Mathai said the role of the lawyer at the war court made no difference to him.
Helping a sick person in the medical profession is the same as defending a criminal in the legal profession. "You execute your jobs to the best of your training and ability," he said.
Mohammed's death-penalty defender, David Nevin, who leads the team that includes Nicholson, also wrote Mathai a thank- you note, the report said.