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New Yorkers wrestle with survival on subway tracks

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm •  Published: December 6, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — The horrific case of a man pushed to his death on the subway tracks has set New Yorkers abuzz about what they would do — and how they would save themselves — if caught in the same situation.

Safety experts say lying down in the trough between the tracks may work in some stations. If you're not obese, there might be a space between the train and the platform at some stops. And if all else fails, they seriously suggest trying to outrun the stopping train.

Those were only some of the ideas tossed around in the days after 58-year-old New Yorker Ki-Suck Han was shoved in front of an oncoming train Monday and killed as other riders watched. A homeless man is charged with second-degree murder in the case.

Han's death got nationwide attention not only for its grotesque nature, but also because nobody — including a photographer taking pictures of the drama — came to his rescue.

That's why safety experts say it's important for subway riders to be aware of ways to save themselves. While being pushed onto the tracks is rare, commuters are hit by trains a frightening number of times — 147 in 2011, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority figures. Fifty of those people died, though most of those were suicides.

Social media lit up with the topic in the days after Han's death. A string of Facebook comments suggested that figuring out how to deal with an oncoming train is the urban equivalent of hikers in Alaska planning for how to deal with an enraged grizzly.

Officially, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says riders in danger on the tracks should seek help from an MTA employee, which may not be the most practical advice with a train bearing down.

When asked for quicker, more helpful action, the agency said it doesn't have a blanket policy because not all the trains and stations are built exactly alike.

Jim Gannon, spokesman for the Transit Workers Union, whose members scour every foot of the system daily, said that on average, people fall on the tracks and survive "a couple of times a week."

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