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Man injured falling into gap at Syosset LIRR station

A gap is seen at the Syosett LIRR

A gap is seen at the Syosett LIRR station where a man had fallen between the train and the platform earlier that day. (Feb. 2, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

A man was injured Tuesday when he fell into a gap between a Long Island Rail Road train and the station platform at Syosset, LIRR officials said.

At 1:18 p.m., the passenger, believed to be in his 70s, was getting off a westbound train that had originated in Huntington when he fell into the gap and down to the track, LIRR spokesman Joe Calderone said. The passenger's identity was not released.

PHOTOS: Click here to see photos of LIRR gap victims

LIRR officials cut off the electricity to the third rail and held the train at the station until the man was safely brought up onto the platform, Calderone said.

The man suffered a cut to his head and complained of back pain. He was taken by ambulance to Syosset Hospital, where he was being treated.

"We're doing a full review of the incident," Calderone said.

The dangers posed by the gaps on the LIRR system first gained attention after the 2006 death of a visiting Minnesota teenager, Natalie Smead, who fell into a gap at the Woodside, Queens, station and was struck by a train.

Smead's death sparked a Newsday investigation that found there had been more than 800 gap accidents from 1995 to early 2007.

Since the investigation, the LIRR has spent $27 million to shrink gaps between trains and platforms, including at Syosset, where the gap was among the widest in the LIRR system.

The number of reported gap incidents has steadily fallen since the LIRR began those efforts. There were 175 total incidents in 2007, 119 in 2008 and 78 in 2009, the railroad said.

Calderone said that $1.6 million was spent at Syosset, where the station platform was shifted to shrink the gap, platform edge lighting was improved, precautionary signs were put up, and boards were installed along the edges of the platform.

Most of the LIRR's fleet have been fitted with 2-inch metal bridge plates at all the doors. The train involved in Tuesday's incident had been fitted with bridge plates.

Calderone said the gap at Syosset where the man fell is 9.1 inches - within the LIRR's acceptable standard of 10 inches for the station.

Nassau legislator and former presiding officer Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) contacted Newsday after learning of Tuesday's incident, which she called "unacceptable."

Jacobs said that the LIRR should invest in technology that would allow a "movable platform" to extend and retract from trains at stations.

"Anything short of this, including the improvements which have been made, will not eliminate these type of accidents," Jacobs said.

PHOTOS: Click here to see photos of LIRR gap victims

MORE: Click here to read stories from Newsday's "Investigating the Gap" series


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