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New York - What Should You Do if You're Pushed Onto Subway Tracks

Published on: December 6, 2012 08:26 PM
By: AP
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The cover of Tuesday's New York Post — which shows a man moments before he was fatally struck by a subway train.The cover of Tuesday's New York Post — which shows a man moments before he was fatally struck by a subway train.

New York - The horrific case of a man pushed to his death on the subway tracks has set New Yorkers abuzz about what they would do - and how they would save themselves - if caught in the same situation.

Safety experts say lying down in the trough between the tracks may work in some stations. If you’re not obese, there might be a space between the train and the platform at some stops. And if all else fails, they seriously suggest trying to outrun the stopping train.

Those were only some of the ideas tossed around in the days after 58-year-old New Yorker Ki-Suck Han was shoved in front of an oncoming train Monday and killed as other riders watched. A homeless man is charged with second-degree murder in the case.

Han’s death got nationwide attention not only for its grotesque nature, but also because nobody - including a photographer taking pictures of the drama - came to his rescue.

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That’s why safety experts say it’s important for subway riders to be aware of ways to save themselves. While being pushed onto the tracks is rare, commuters are hit by trains a frightening number of times - 147 in 2011, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority figures. Fifty of those people died, though most of those were suicides.

Social media lit up with the topic in the days after Han’s death. A string of Facebook comments suggested that figuring out how to deal with an oncoming train is the urban equivalent of hikers in Alaska planning for how to deal with an enraged grizzly.

Officially, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says riders in danger on the tracks should seek help from an MTA employee, which may not be the most practical advice with a train bearing down.

When asked for quicker, more helpful action, the agency said it doesn’t have a blanket policy because not all the trains and stations are built exactly alike.

Jim Gannon, spokesman for the Transit Workers Union, whose members scour every foot of the system daily, said that on average, people fall on the tracks and survive “a couple of times a week.”

The first option, he said, if possible is to clamber back onto the subway platform or find a do-gooder willing and strong enough to lift a person about 4 feet up without falling in themselves.

If no one can pull you up, Gannon said, lying down in the space between the tracks - the trough - is another option that’s been used successfully several times because “there is a good deal of clearance.” But as the MTA warns, not all stations and trains are built alike and the depth of troughs, and the amount of trash in them, varies.

Looking to the side of the tracks is another option. Many station platforms have a lip, or a concave overhang, that’s just deep enough to accommodate all but the largest of people.

Gannon also suggests stepping between the girders that separate tracks, if the station is built that way. But that involves stepping over the dreaded third rail - which carries more than 600 volts of electricity - more than enough to kill a person.

The next option, and the most James Bond-like, is to try to run in front of the train, which travels an average of 25 mph but is slowing down as it enters the station.

Depending on where you fall on the tracks and how far away the train is, you may be able to beat the train to the end of the station stop, where there is usually a ladder that allows you to climb back up to the platform.

“You would need nerves of steel to do that,” said Julius Zomper, a New York paramedic whose ambulance has responded to Manhattan subway accidents. “And you’d have to be a quick thinker and run fast.”

Still, just about any risk is worth taking, Gannon said, because “if you get hit by a train, your chances of survival are not good.”

The suspect in Han’s death, Naeem Davis, told reporters Wednesday night that the victim attacked him first. Han’s funeral was held Thursday.


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Read Comments (27)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 06, 2012 at 08:54 PM Anonymous Says:

I notice that flashing a camera is not suggested.

2

 Dec 06, 2012 at 08:59 PM Geulah Says:

Then there's preventing the falling on the tracks in the first place method by having retractable gates on the edge of the platforms. Prevention, what a concept.

3

 Dec 06, 2012 at 09:45 PM Anonymous Says:

what a hard decision! should i take a picture or save the man?
hmmmmmm....
u know what? let me take the picture! that makes perfect sense! this other human is of no significance! not my problem!
NO! YOU RETARD! WHEN THE TIME COMES YOU WILL PAY!!!

4

 Dec 06, 2012 at 10:12 PM yoyoyo Says:

How about putting on some safety gates or something? I just can't understand why it's a big deal to put on gates.

5

 Dec 06, 2012 at 10:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Another idea. It looks like there are some cables hanging off the front in the center. Now, if you time it just right, you might be able to grab on and hold on.

6

 Dec 06, 2012 at 10:46 PM TexasJew Says:

PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7

 Dec 06, 2012 at 11:52 PM FrumJew Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

what a hard decision! should i take a picture or save the man?
hmmmmmm....
u know what? let me take the picture! that makes perfect sense! this other human is of no significance! not my problem!
NO! YOU RETARD! WHEN THE TIME COMES YOU WILL PAY!!!

There was once a survey of reporters: Would they video people from a poor African country starve to death, or would they give them food?

Most reporters said they would let them starve.

8

 Dec 07, 2012 at 12:07 AM clear-thinker Says:

Reply to #6  
TexasJew Says:

PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A little flippant don't you think? I have a question for you. If there is a stampede of cattle in Texas is prayer the answer also.
This was a tragedy. I think we should not be getting a laugh at the expense of a dead man. As an aside, how many extra papers did the Post sell because of the photo?

9

 Dec 07, 2012 at 01:06 AM AlbertEinstein Says:

Reply to #6  
TexasJew Says:

PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not everyone (i.e., almost no one) has sufficient merits these days so that prayer alone will help in this case. See Exodus 14:19. There is a time for prayer, and there is a time for ACTION.

10

 Dec 07, 2012 at 01:13 AM Lets flood Bloombergs inbox with an idea Says:

The simplest way to accomplish safety in this situation is to put that little red pulley thingy that all the trains are equipped with that say " for safety please pull....", at each subway station on poles or the walls which witnesses would pull and would signal oncoming train drivers or conductors not to pull in to the station because of a danger of a man on the tracks.
(Also have survelince cameras preventing idiots from randomly pulling them)

11

 Dec 07, 2012 at 03:31 AM TexasJew Says:

#8 Get a life. Humor can make you go farther. It's a real tragedy but the question asked was, "what would you do". I simply said PRAY. That's the truth but humorous.

12

 Dec 07, 2012 at 04:20 AM dovidkatz Says:

someone should have jumped in and saved him

13

 Dec 07, 2012 at 07:46 AM bpwife Says:

How much did he get paid for the picture?
Maybe he can donate the money to help pay funeral expense

14

 Dec 07, 2012 at 08:14 AM Materetsky Says:

Reply to #8  
clear-thinker Says:

A little flippant don't you think? I have a question for you. If there is a stampede of cattle in Texas is prayer the answer also.
This was a tragedy. I think we should not be getting a laugh at the expense of a dead man. As an aside, how many extra papers did the Post sell because of the photo?

I don't think they are laughing. They are just saying that in times of crisis sometimes the best/only option is prayer. If I were down there, cv"s , I hope that I , in addition to trying to climb up, would be praying, as all Jews ideally should in difficult times

15

 Dec 07, 2012 at 09:18 AM BuckyinWisconsin Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

what a hard decision! should i take a picture or save the man?
hmmmmmm....
u know what? let me take the picture! that makes perfect sense! this other human is of no significance! not my problem!
NO! YOU RETARD! WHEN THE TIME COMES YOU WILL PAY!!!

Please, calling someone a "retard" is just ignorant and makes you seem crass and uneducated. It is just not a nice term. Not shayach to the article, but I thought I would mention it. If you were to use that phrase in a professional work setting you would look like a dope.

16

 Dec 07, 2012 at 09:27 AM SHMOO2 Says:

Maybe the photographer had a telephoto lens and was too far away to help.
Hevay Don l'kaf zchus. OR... maybe he was just an idiot.

17

 Dec 07, 2012 at 10:06 AM yungerman1 Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

Another idea. It looks like there are some cables hanging off the front in the center. Now, if you time it just right, you might be able to grab on and hold on.

Time it right or not, grabbing onto the cables is like getting hit by a car at 25MPH.

18

 Dec 07, 2012 at 10:11 AM clear-thinker Says:

Reply to #11  
TexasJew Says:

#8 Get a life. Humor can make you go farther. It's a real tragedy but the question asked was, "what would you do". I simply said PRAY. That's the truth but humorous.

I'm pretty sure I have a life. I am glad that you would pray when confronted with this life and death situation. I take it a stampede does not qualify as humor in Texas.

19

 Dec 07, 2012 at 10:17 AM Cello Says:

Reply to #15  
BuckyinWisconsin Says:

Please, calling someone a "retard" is just ignorant and makes you seem crass and uneducated. It is just not a nice term. Not shayach to the article, but I thought I would mention it. If you were to use that phrase in a professional work setting you would look like a dope.

Dope also isn't professional or nice. This isn't a work discussion it's an online, informal, comment section a news site. Who cares.

20

 Dec 07, 2012 at 10:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
dovidkatz Says:

someone should have jumped in and saved him

The train is pulling into the station, you jump in. Now what? How are you planning to save him? You would have had 2 deaths not one. Think before you write.

21

 Dec 07, 2012 at 11:29 AM jew-wish Says:

Ya know what would be nice? if VIN refrained from using THAT photo with this story. Idiots.

22

 Dec 07, 2012 at 01:26 PM My2Cents Says:

How about some kind of sensor on the tracks that would alert an oncoming train. or video of the tracks at stations that can be viewed by the conductor on the train?

23

 Dec 07, 2012 at 01:29 PM dude Says:

Reply to #7  
FrumJew Says:

There was once a survey of reporters: Would they video people from a poor African country starve to death, or would they give them food?

Most reporters said they would let them starve.

crazy world we live in huh.

24

 Dec 07, 2012 at 01:33 PM guy from #3 Says:

Reply to #15  
BuckyinWisconsin Says:

Please, calling someone a "retard" is just ignorant and makes you seem crass and uneducated. It is just not a nice term. Not shayach to the article, but I thought I would mention it. If you were to use that phrase in a professional work setting you would look like a dope.

Am uneducated? No.
Am I in a professional workplace? No.
IS HE A RETARD? YES.

25

 Dec 07, 2012 at 03:08 PM X29 Rider Says:

How about putting a rubber catcher on the front car and also putting a SPEED LIMIT on how fast motormen can come into crowded stations.

26

 Dec 08, 2012 at 06:56 PM Anonymous Says:

The best way he could've saved himself or G-d Forbid any one else in this dreadful situation is to run to the end of the tracks - stand where the train would stop and then signal to the train driver to help.

27

 Dec 08, 2012 at 07:26 PM Ohio Jew Says:

To #11-Texas Jew- It is you who should get a life! Your comments over the last few weeks, have contained sarcasm, arrogance, a "holier than though" attitude, as well as loshon hora!

28

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