On the Tracks, and Out of Time


(Photo by Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times)

via the New York Times:

Around 10 p.m. on Dec. 6, I walked into the Bowling Green subway station, returning home from my company’s holiday party at a restaurant downtown, and saw several people crouched on the platform extending their hands out toward the tracks. I looked down to see a disoriented man in the center of the tracks.

I crouched down, too, and extended my hand. And I thought: “He is way too far from the platform… Why is he stumbling about and not getting closer? How long has he been down there?”

Read the rest of this harrowing account here

ADVICE: Should you ever fall or get pushed into the subway tracks…

Image via Gawker.
Image via Gawker.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s horrific. On Dec. 3, a man was pushed into the subway tracks and killed. Here are some tips from my friend Rich, who as a former graffiti writer, has been on the subway tracks, as well as inside the tunnels:

If you happen to fall or get pushed into the subway tracks:

– If you don’t hear a train coming down the tunnel, and don’t see any lights, you can try to climb out of the tracks.
The height is a lot higher than you may think, and will take some real effort. Hopefully someone can help you out. Take off any backpacks/bulky coats (again, assuming you have time. There is a difference between falling into a subway track at 5:30 pm and 3am).

-If you can make it to either end of the track, it might be a little easier to climb out using step railings. Go to the end that the first car would end up at, since you have a better chance of the train stopping by then.

– If the train is barreling down the tunnel, and you have no time to climb out, don’t freak out and keep reaching out, or if someone who is trying to pull you up is not able to, make them let go. You do not want to be caught half-way up as the train crushes you between platform and subway car.

What you want to do is lie down FLAT and STRAIGHT, AGAINST the wall UNDER the subway platform. Don’t curl up, and this will push you out closer to the train.
There is a relatively good amount of space under there.

The train will likely stop, and likely not move until rescue teams arrive, though perhaps some MTA workers might try to come to you to make sure you’re ok.

Don’t try to crawl out unless you are directed to do so in a safe manner.

Yes, it’s dirty and disgusting down there, but it’s a lot better than being crushed into human Spam.

Do not try to lie down in between the track rails to let the train go over you.
While there have been cases of people surviving this way, there are mechanical components underneath the train carriage that can snag up on your coat or backpack and drag you, causing you serious harm.

As you all know, there is a live 3rd rail, usually against the opposite wall from the platform. The electricity on this rail will KILL you.

But if for some reason, you end up stuck on this side of the track when the train is barreling down the tunnel, the rail usually has a wooden beam over it that is *safe* to step on.
(By *safe*, I mean it’s certainly better than stepping on the metal of the 3rd rail itself).

Hopefully, this beam is structurally sound.

You will also notice there are indentations on the wall. If you stand up super pressed against the wall in these gaps, you have a much better chance of not being hit.

(If you are wearing a backpack/purse, remove it. Throw it away. It’s not worth getting tangled over).

— Extra tip:
If you are trying to hold the door for your kid/friend, etc, most people’s arm strength cannot stop the doors from closing. You can get caught and dragged.

Use your foot (hopefully with a sneaker or boot, and not heels on it) at the bottom of the open door. This provides a lot more friction to stop the doors from closing than trying to use your hands/arms.

— Extra extra tip:
If you are inside the subway tunnel, it is far more deadly in there, as the gaps for safety are much much smaller.
It’s a lot more difficult to see where the 3rd rails are, and the trains will be zooming by a lot faster.

If you are in there for some reason (which I can’t imagine why, unless you have a can of silver spray paint or are escaping from zombies),
some paths have elevated platforms against the wall. Lying flat against the wall on these platforms will help with you not getting hit, but it’s a close shave.

If you don’t extend beyond the edge of the platform (again, watch out with that backpack), you should be ok. Beware of the “suction” the train forms when it zooms by you. It can pull you into the moving train.

Though I’m 6’2 and 230 lbs, I don’t sleep on the subway platform.
Whether it’s kids/gangs acting stupid, or some mentally deranged individual having a violent fit, I don’t sleep on anyone. Even with headphones on, I keep an eye out, and watch out for who is around me.

The man who was recently killed by that train could have survived if he just lied down beneath the platform.

He probably had no idea, and thought the only chance was to climb out.

A little info can save your life.