A panhandler who found out late his train had left the station, broke his ankle by jumping off in an "escapade" that turned into a nightmare for tens of thousands of rush-hour commuters jammed at Penn Station Thursday, the LIRR said.
Power to the rails was shut down after Eduardo Dellaviginia, 35, jumped at about 3:18 p.m., just as his eastbound train was pulling out of Penn Station and into an East River tunnel, said LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena.
He is known to police as a panhandler who typically gets on board to solicit money from passengers as they wait for their train to pull out, Arena said.
Panhandlers usually get off before the train leaves, but Dellaviginia realized late that the train was moving, Arena said.
"Apparently he waited too long and the train left the station and he didn't want to leave the station," he said.
The next stop was in Woodside Station in Queens, 11 minutes away.
From between the second and third cars, Dellaviginia jumped to the tracks as the train was traveling about 5 mph, with some cars in the tunnel and others still moving past the platform, Arena said,
Rescuers were dispatched to the tunnel, the LIRR said.
While they worked, service between Jamaica and Penn stations was suspended in both directions for more than two hours. Dellaviginia was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
More than 15 eastbound trains were canceled, the LIRR said.
Limited eastbound service restarted about 5 p.m., the railroad said, and by 7 p.m., eastbound delays of up to 55 minutes had been reduced to half an hour or less.
When power was turned back on for the third rail, some westbound trains were directed to pull into Penn Station instead of being held, so the cars would be freed to go eastbound, Arena said.
Restrictions on entering Penn Station were lifted at 5:30 p.m., the LIRR said.
The railroad said Dellaviginia has been cited in the past for "fraudulent accosting," a criminal violation.
In a news release, Arena called the incident an "escapade that turned the evening commute into a painful experience for tens of thousands of LIRR customers."