Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

December 29, 2012

Mayor: Keep 2 N.Y. subway push deaths in perspective

NEW YORK — For New York City, it wasn’t an unusual sight: a possibly mentally ill woman pacing and mumbling to herself on an elevated subway station platform.

The woman eventually took a seat on a bench Thursday night, witnesses later said. Then, without any warning or provocation, she sprang up and used both hands to shove a man into the path of an oncoming train.

As police sought on Friday to locate the unidentified woman, Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to keep the second fatal subway shove in the city this month in perspective. The news of the horrific death of 46-year-old Sunando Sen, who was from India and lived in Queens, came as the mayor touted drops in the city’s annual homicide and shooting totals.

“It’s a very tragic case, but what we want to focus on today is the overall safety in New York,” Bloomberg told reporters following a police academy graduation.

The New York Police Department released a sketch of the woman and surveillance video of her fleeing the area and interviewed witnesses, including some who described her as acting agitated before the attack.

Some witnesses said Sen had been shielding himself from the cold by waiting in a stairwell before he ventured out onto the platform to see if the train was coming. They also said he had no interaction with the woman, who immediately darted down a stairway after she pushed him.

One witness told police that Sen had no time to try to save himself. The witness turned away to avoid seeing him getting crushed on the tracks.

Investigators identified Sen, who lived alone, through a smartphone and a prescription pill bottle he was carrying. They notified his relatives in India of his death.

Detectives were following leads from the public generated by the video and were checking homeless shelters and psychiatric units in a bid to identify the woman, described as Hispanic, heavyset, about 5-foot-5 and in her 20s. It was unclear whether the woman and Sen knew each other or whether the attack was simply the act of a deranged stranger.

The medical examiner said Friday that an autopsy found that Sen died from head trauma.

Commuters on Friday expressed concern over subway safety.

“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.”

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Lake Park considers millage rate increase

    Lake Park has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will result in a 29.64 percent increase in property taxes.

    July 28, 2014

  • Free Health Fair slated for August 9th

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place on August 9th  from 8:00am until 12 noon.

    July 28, 2014

  • BtpsXVpIgAEXKB-.jpg Manhunt underway for drivers of stolen dump truck

    This morning, around 8:00 deputies from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a dump truck traveling south on I-75.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingston’s loss means less clout for Ga.

    For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night — winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

    July 28, 2014

  • IMG_3745.jpeg Gas leak on West Adair

    A gas leak has occured on West Adair Street, between Tombs and Oak Street. The leak began just after 11 a.m.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • salmonella 2 copy.jpg Trial nears for suspects in salmonella case

    Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commercial driver training program expanding

    Department of Driver Services (DDS) Commissioner Rob Mikell announced recently an expansion of the commercial driver training program administered by the Agency’s Regulatory Compliance Division. DDS will now offer a Commercial Driver License (CDL) Instructor Training Class for customers who have applied to be CDL instructors. The session will provide additional guidance as the applicants prepare for the final exam.

    July 28, 2014

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • Heat advisory for much of South Georgia

    A heat advisory is in place for much of South Georgia until 7 p.m.

    July 27, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results