Man Fatally Electrocuted After Falling Onto Tracks In Times Square: An Eyewitness Account

New York City Subway
A rider comes up the escalator at the 42nd Street subway station in Manhattan.

A man was fatally electrocuted after he fell onto the subway tracks in New York City's Times Square on Friday morning. An eyewitness described the fatal accident as a "helpless situation for everyone who witnessed it," as several individuals tried to help but were warned against trying to remove the man.

During the early morning commute, a man fell onto the electrified third rail of the uptown 2 and 3 train tracks at the 42nd Street station. According to eyewitness Rebecca Fox, the incident occurred around 6:55 a.m. EDT and said she "heard screaming and saw a man fall; he was wearing jeans, work boots and a blue shirt. ... He just fell, and his head was touching the third rail."

The man fell near the front of the train, and, according to Fox, the platform was not crowded, with roughly 15 people nearby when the man fall onto the tracks. Fox said the man's position while falling did not look as though he had jumped onto the tracks, saying the body had looked "limp," similar to someone falling due to losing consciousness. Fox said the man was not pushed, and police are currently investigating the matter and looking into the possibility that the man committed suicide, Gothamist notes. 

Several commuters jumped in to help, and Fox said, "A man jumped down to help, but someone from the platform said don't touch him, he is touching the third rail." As some commuters went to a nearby intercom to radio for help, others called 911. Fox said MTA employees were quick to arrive on the scene.

After the man's head hit the third rail, Fox said, "His body just started seizing for about 45 seconds and then smoke was billowing from his head," she continued, "It was such a terrible burning smell. I will never forget that smell."

The incident lasted between two to three minutes. According to Fox, while the MTA was quick to stop trains from arriving, it took approximately 15 minutes for the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York to arrive after the first calls to 911 were placed. 

The scene of the accident was chaotic, and, while many commuters immediately tried to help, Fox said, "There were the people who were filming and cursing, because they were going to be late." 

After the NYPD and FDNY arrived, the platform grew increasingly packed with people, and Fox said, "The scene was crowded, and the MTA and police kept yelling at people to move back from the platform. The FDNY assessed the situation first before they went down to the tracks with a body board," she continued. "All uptown train service was moved to the local side, and as I was leaving the FDNY had pulled the body off the tracks and had him laying on the bodyboard on the platform."

Police have not released more details about the fatal incident. 

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