Streams

The Subway Pushing and the Post Cover

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Safety bumps on a platform's edge look like proverbial fried eggs on a hot day in the subway. (Susan NYC/flickr)

"DOOMED" read yesterday's controversial New York Post coverTom McGeveran, editor of Capital New York who writes about the NYC tabloid wars, discusses the Post's decision to publish the photo of the pushed man. And Jim O'Grady, transportation reporter for WNYC, explains what we know about subway safety.

Do you have a reaction to the Post photograph? Got a question about subway safety? Call 212-433-9692 or post here.

Guests:

Tom McGeveran and Jim O'Grady

Comments [42]

Post Subway Photo
The reason many species have morbid curiosity is that morbid curiosity has survival value. By studying and contemplating others' deaths, we may learn to avoid that particular way to die.
We can learn much from the photo. I heard the victim's body was wedged between the car and the platform. Observe how the curved floor of the car would pinch his body against the platform.
He'd have been better off to be struck by the front surface of the train, suffering only impact, not the shearing and crushing between two massive objects, which would mangle a body even at low speeds.
He could have lain under the center of the train, between the rails.
He could have leaped between the columns to the next track.
There might have been room for him below the platform in some stations.
Some of these escapes can be gleaned from the photo.
Occasionally, I have been in some dangerous circumstance, similar to one that I had read about another person suffering. My somewhat prepared reaction likely saved me from the victim's fate.
So I have no sympathy for the pious moralizing of those who would stifle morbid curiosity, or suppress tragic information, including photos and videos.
Suppressing fatal stories can kill people.

Dec. 14 2012 11:28 AM
Lee from Astoria,NY

The New York Post owned by the same company that created the ultimate oxymoron - Fair and Balanced. Rupert Murdoch and his flunkies are the Wizards of Sleaze

Dec. 05 2012 11:18 PM
Margaret from UWS Manhattan

My letter to the MTA includes: 1) The attempt to save a person on the tracks should be made by others present, by forming a chain, similarly to when doing an ice hole rescue, to prevent one or two rescuers from also being pulled down. It's illegal negligence (here?) to not attempt to rescue someone - "Samaritan law". 2) The International Emergency Train Stop signal might be allowed known by the public. If gratuitous idiots play with it, MTA could change it to one known only to employees. It's a shame for someone to have not been able to stop the train all the times this has happened (average of once per week!?). It would be a shame for only employees to know it - they'd have to happen to be there when it happens - but remember when fire alarm callboxes has a glass window and a hammer? Look it up, and start carrying a pocket flashlight when riding the train. AND: What happened to making a citizens' arrest? [before additional mention]Instead of taking a photo. Then there's the editorial sense regarding publishing it. I hope people who saw it prayed for this person's soul in transition - which I did without seeing the photo. [after mention on show] as for taking photos AFTER... Did Post editors ask the man's family for permission? Or is their judgement more important than his family's preference?

Dec. 05 2012 04:58 PM
Bill from Upper West Side

Years ago, on a visit to the NY Transit Museum in Brooklyn, I was told that if a person ever falls on the tracks, they should lie flat between the rails, that there is enough clearance for a train to pass safely over.

I never forgot this advice and I'm surprised that more people don't know it. If Ki-Suck Han, the man who was pushed to the tracks at Times Square on Monday, had known this, he'd be alive today. If someone on the platform had just screamed "lie between the tracks" and he had done it, we'd have a totally different story (and the NY Post photographer would be a hero for recording it).

Dec. 05 2012 12:46 PM

You can see this woman who refused to turn in the pusher because she didn't want to be called "a rat" here:

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=8906776

Police used surveillance video from commercial establishments to spot the suspect, who reportedly was known to work with street vendors near the scene. One of them, newsstand vendor Liz Willis, said she recognized the man but did not inform police because she didn't want to be a snitch.

Dec. 05 2012 12:08 PM
Nick from Sunset Park

As a lifelong subway rider, and an FDNY member who responds to subway emergencies: If you are on subway tracks, and there is a train approaching, you will not have time to get to the far end of the platform where there is a ladder. Many people couldn't hoist themselves over to the platform which is 4 1/2' high. There also may not be enough space under the platform overhang. You may be on tracks that do not run next to parallel tracks which you can escape to. So your best bet is to lie flat between the two rails and allow the train to pass over you, and await the FDNY or NYPD who will safely remove you.

Dec. 05 2012 11:44 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

The victim may have not been able to think clearly and dive into the shallow trench between the rails, because he was pushed into the pit where the rails lie.

I remember the girl, the violinist, who was pushed onto the train tracks and lost her arm.

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/01/04/nyregion/woman-killed-in-a-subway-station-attack.html

Dec. 05 2012 11:42 AM
John from Manhattan

Paris is retrofitting Metro stops with glass barriers like those used by JFK Air Link.But they can be dangerous too when closing on passengers who are getting on or off. Also, they have been using "time until next train" signs for a decade which prevents people from looking over the track.The Paris Metro also has mobile coverage in metrocars. May be the MTA should at least have 911 access on platforms?

Finally, there are still gaps in platforms such as Brooklyn Bridge 4,5,6 where I have observed a person's foot slip between the platform and a subway car. Luckily, people held the door and prevented it from closing until the person got back up safely.

Dec. 05 2012 11:41 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

The man might have been saved, pulled to safety by the photographer.

Dec. 05 2012 11:37 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Amber Sextona. Again the city lives in the past. Zillions are spent on the system yet we the subway riders have to live in fear. The MTA needs to be held responsible.

Dec. 05 2012 11:30 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@ Nancy - you can, as long as you don't step under the guard, on the rail itself.

Dec. 05 2012 11:29 AM
jm

Gene: I hope that woman receives more coverage. She gave that part of the interview with a smile! There's a special place in hell for people like her.

Dec. 05 2012 11:28 AM
fuva from harlemworld

I cannot tell you how careless parents are with their kids on the platforms.

Dec. 05 2012 11:27 AM
Sam

Here's the contemporary newspaper story of Everett Sanderson saving that little girl. Great story!

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1982&dat=19750117&id=yOBGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=8TMNAAAAIBAJ&pg=5289,2725640

Dec. 05 2012 11:27 AM
The Truth from Becky

It is said that he spent 1 minute trying to hoist himself up...I invite you sit still for 1 minute, 60 seconds and see how much time passed and no one attempted to help this man....oh but someone did get a picture...smh, very sad.

Dec. 05 2012 11:26 AM
jm

I've been the good samaritan during past incidents, and I believe that New Yorkers generally do want to help under these circumstances. In my experiences, I had sufficient time to process what was going on and react. Over the years the MTA and other experts have given conflicting advice as to what to do to if you fall on the track or witness someone doing so.

(SEE? This interviewee has just confirmed the MTA has "no position.")

We've been told numerous times that the platform height and angle makes it unlikely for one person to pull another out of the tracks without significant risk. This means you have to rally more than one person to help.

Also consider the shock of the witnesses, particularly those wanting to step away from the conflict beforehand. If they try to help, will the crazy guy push them as well? Surely a MTA worker or transit police will help? Surely the train conductor will see the guy in time? Is this really happening? I've heard a little over a minute passed between the assault and the accident, and I can definitely understand the delay. Never underestimate the power of shock.

Dec. 05 2012 11:25 AM
Nancy from Harlem

Is it possible to step OVER the 3d rail if you're trying to escape an oncoming train by going to the middle or other side?

Dec. 05 2012 11:25 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

In my early twenties, I foolishly jumped unto the tracks at the 59th st #1 station, to retrieve some shades a woman dropped, it was very difficult to get back up on the platform - what was I thinking.

Dec. 05 2012 11:24 AM
keith from Union Square

While it was horrific, I do not believe the photographer was close enough to intervene, and provided a valuable social service by documenting what will educate us, especially that there were bystanders close enough to help who did nothing. Second point, I once was foolish enough to jump down to retrieve the keys of a young boy who inadvertently dropped his keys into the track. I am a competitive athlete and determined that I could do a good deed and jump down and back up quickly which I did, but in retrospect it was very foolish. Getting back on to the platform is difficult because there is nothing to grab to pull up on. It requires a significant vertical jump sufficient to bring the body weight up onto platform, then, like sliding across a sheet of ice gradually pull oneself toward safety. It's not easy.

Dec. 05 2012 11:24 AM
ba from uws

So the MTA won't offer advice on what to do if you end up on the tracks because it's afraid of being sued?????

Dec. 05 2012 11:23 AM
Amber Sextona

We need to advocate for platform screen doors for future subway improvement projects. This should be worked into the capital improvement program. Because anyone can be murdered this way, and over 100 people being struck per year is too many.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platform_screen_doors

Dec. 05 2012 11:23 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Living in a state of paranoia and fear while you are taking the subway is no way to live. What a life, you are on your own in the NYC subway system. You must know the techniques as to how to survive in case a lunatic pushes you. WOWO. Nuts.

Dec. 05 2012 11:20 AM
Ben from Brooklyn

Seriously, talk to any kid who lived in New York in the 1970s.

You either walk away from the train, where there is a small ladder that goes up to the platform.

If the train is coming, you run.

And if the train is really close, just carefully step over the third rail and hang out between the poles. The third rail is covered by a wood plank. I've done that a couple of times.

Dec. 05 2012 11:20 AM
lydia from Glen Cove, NY

What about enclosing all the platforms? In shanghai, China almost all the subway platforms are enclosed.

Dec. 05 2012 11:20 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Run past the platform's edge?

Dec. 05 2012 11:20 AM
The Truth from Becky

A crying shame that no one, NO ONE or two people were not able to grab this man off the tracks!! Everyone probably had their headphones on rockin' out!!

Dec. 05 2012 11:18 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

NY Post - those sickening racial cartoons? Publishing Norah Jones' address. Their so-called "exclusive" of Biden winning the presidential nominee a few years ago.

Uncle Rupert's money losing joke, is only good for wrapping fish. That said - I'm not going to judge the photographer.

Dec. 05 2012 11:18 AM
Frank

it's hard to know, but maybe bystanders perceived a risk in helping the doomed man: being pulled down with him or being hit by the train or being pushed in as he was? It was a dangerous crime scene.

Dec. 05 2012 11:18 AM
Ryan from Chelsea

I hope, if there is such a thing, this is the Image of the Year.

It says so much about our culture and our humanity. Where we live in a world of Facebook, Instagram, and instant gratifcation. He snapped a picture, he didn't help (and claimed he couldn't). But he seems so removed so distant, and it's because we put our technology between our need to connect.

If he didn't do it, some one else would have. I think this ignites the conversation that all have our faces buried in our phones. Time to look up.

Dec. 05 2012 11:17 AM
Mary from Jersey City

Why must trains barrel into the stations? Why can't they slow down and creep in? Wouldn't that save lives? Why rely on people on the platform to pull people out when the MTA can solve it? Mary from Jersey City.

Dec. 05 2012 11:17 AM
elaine from westchester, ny

The perpetrator seemed obviously mentally ill and violent. Why on earth would anyone else want to "tussle" with him? I think it made absolute sense for no one else to intervene, as tragic as the outcome was.

Dec. 05 2012 11:17 AM
lcruz from brooklyn

the post used to publish all kinds of grime 10 years ago, get over it.
also where was track guy from, he could just stepped to the wall side of the 3rd rail, go under the overhang under the platform.

Dec. 05 2012 11:16 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Look, Abasi was not a hero. And so weren't many on that platform. It's a teachable moment.
But Abasi's claim to have been "alerting" the train operator is killing me. It's...nonsense.
And, no, we don't need any of this or the despicable-as-usual Post to "spark discussion". Stop validating lowlife-ness.

Dec. 05 2012 11:16 AM

What about that news agent who was interviewed on, I believe, Channel 7 last night, who RECOGNIZED the pusher, and DID NOTHING. Because she said she didn't want to be called a rat!

I call her a rat! She's a despicable rat. The next person this guy pushed could have been me, or a friend, or relative. Or her.

She and her stand should be boycotted.

Dec. 05 2012 11:15 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Unfortunately, photographers do take pictures of the bad as well as the good, but I don't know whether this was an appropriate cover for a newspaper.

I did see someone die that way (not pushed) a few years ago and it is quite gruesome. It's hard to get to the victim in time because the train is coming too fast. Believe it or not, I was the only person who witnessed the event who stopped and left my name so the police could get a statement. This was in the days before cell phones, so no one had photos or video. All of us who were at the far end of the station had to walk by the body on our way off the platform. Not something I'd like to see again.

Dec. 05 2012 11:13 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

It’s time to admit that NYC’s subway system is ancient and belongs to earlier years of the 20th century.
If a device can be sent to Mars to pick up rock samples direct hundreds and thousands of miles away then surely we can have a laser scan system that will put the breaks on a train when it detects a large object on the rail tracts.

Dec. 05 2012 11:12 AM
licnyc from queens

This man is a liar. "my flash would get the drivers attention" ?! What does that even mean- how does that make any sense?! This is embarrassing, this guy should spend the rest of his days knowing he did nothing for his own gain.

Dec. 05 2012 11:12 AM
pliny from soho

no excuses but
early reports had the victim being drunk
and having a bottle of vodka with him
the tv video has the pusher saying leave me alone
go away

Dec. 05 2012 11:11 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Seriously, how can anyone still be buying The Post?

Dec. 05 2012 11:07 AM
Lala from nyc

I think he was acting in his capacity as a photo-journalist. Perhaps the "bigger question" is whether reporters/journalists/photo-journalists are morally/ethically obligated to help their subjects.
That is a whole semester of journalistic ethics

Dec. 05 2012 10:39 AM

more ny post/fox garbage. who is surprised?

Dec. 05 2012 10:20 AM
Kate from Washington Heights

Hi Mike - I am sickened that anyone would take such a photo rather than focusing entirely on helping the man. Is there a Good Samaritan law in New York? Could someone be prosecuted for failing to try to help someone in mortal danger?

I am also sickened by the Post's decision to put it not only in the paper, but on the front page. What about my right not to be assaulted by such despicable images?

Thanks

Dec. 05 2012 10:10 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.