The Queens track tragedy that killed a 29-year-old man who sought to help his 18-year-old companion underscores a key subway lesson: Never hop on the tracks.
“People have no clue how deep it is until you walk on those tracks. That platform is like miles up,” said Steve St. Hill, a track worker and union leader.
In the accident Friday, Beatriz Briceno, of Hamden, Conn., jumped onto the tracks at the 36th Ave station in Astoria after she dropped her jacket about 10:40 p.m, witnesses and the train operator told police. Her companion, Jose Gomez, of Brooklyn, jumped in behind her to help, and they were both struck by a northbound N train. Both were taken to Elmhurst General Hospital, where Gomez was pronounced dead, police said. Train service was disrupted until about 12:30 a.m., NYC Transit said.
Briceno was in critical but stable condition, and remained hospitalized Sunday, an NYPD spokesman said. Police were continuing to investigate how the sad turn of events unfolded, and whether alcohol was a factor.
The tracks may look close from up above, but the platform will come to a rider’s shoulder or chin once down below, St. Hill said. There are no rungs to grab on to, and most people don’t have the agility to hoist themselves up again when a loud train comes barreling down the tracks, he said.
“People don’t think. You can’t just get back up there once you get down,” St. Hill said.