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MTA police probe LIRR 'train surfer'

MTA police are investigating an eyewitness' report of a man riding on top of a Long Island Rail Road train car in Queens Sunday afternoon.

LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said a customer waiting for a Penn Station-bound train on the westbound platform at Forest Hills snapped a photo of a so-called train surfer, lying face down on top of the eastbound train.

The customer who took the photograph called police, and may have also notified the crew on his train, Arena said. MTA police tried to intercept the man at Jamaica, Arena said, but missed him.

The train left Penn at 8:55 a.m. and passed through Forest Hills at 9:11 a.m., Donovan said. It arrived in Babylon at 10:13 a.m., making local stops en route.

Arena said MTA police cannot identify the man from the smartphone photo, and are reviewing surveillance video from various cameras at Jamaica to get a better image of him. Police were also arranging to interview the witness, Arena said.

Once identified, the man will face, at least, trespassing and fare evasion charges, Arena said.

So-called "train surfing" incidents on the LIRR are "very unusual," said Arena, who could not recall another case in his five years with the agency.

"You think of it as more of a subway phenomenon, and even there it doesn't happen very often," he said.

Train surfing is considered sport practiced by thrill-seekers around the world -- sometimes with fatal consequences, according to reports.

A search of international websites shows scores of published videos of train surfers from varied locations, including India, Germany, Australia and Denmark.

A 2012 report out of Melbourne, Australia, chronicled the death of James Wilkinson, 18, who was apparently electrocuted when he came into contact with the live overhead catenary power lines while the train he was surfing was stopped at Caufield station.

With John Valenti

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