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Mayor: Keep 2 NY subway push deaths in perspective

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm •  Published: December 28, 2012
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"It's just a really sad commentary on the world and on human beings, period," said Howard Roth, who takes the subway daily.

He said the deadly push reminded him, "the best thing is what they tell you — don't stand near the edge, and keep your eyes open."

Bloomberg, asked earlier Friday about the episode at a station on Queens Boulevard in the Sunnyside neighborhood, pointed to legal and policy changes that led to the release of many mentally ill people from psychiatric institutions from the 1960s through 1990s.

"The courts or the law have changed and said, no, you can't do that unless they're a danger to society; our laws protect you. That's fair enough," Bloomberg said on "The John Gambling Show with Mayor Mike" on WOR-AM.

There are no barriers separating the trains from the people on the city's subway platforms, and many people fall or jump to their deaths in front of rushing trains each year.

Though shoving deaths are rare, Thursday night's killing came just weeks after a man was pushed in front of a train in Times Square. A homeless man was charged with murder and is awaiting trial.

Other high-profile cases include the 1999 fatal shoving of Kendra Webdale, an aspiring screenwriter, by a former psychiatric patient. That case led to a state law allowing for more supervision of mentally ill people living outside institutions.

Like many subway riders, Micah Siegel follows her own set of safety precautions during her daily commute: Stand against a wall or pillar to keep someone from coming up behind you, and watch out when navigating a crowded or narrow platform to avoid being knocked — even accidentally — onto the tracks.

"I do try to be aware of what's around me and who's around me, especially as a young woman," Siegel, a 21-year-old college student, said as she waited at Pennsylvania Station on Friday.

So does Roth, who's 60.

"It sounds a little wimpy if you're like, 'Who's going to push me?'" he said. "But it's better to be safe than sorry."

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Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

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