MTA Worker Killed in NYC’s Herald Square Station

04 Dec, 2023 Liz Carey


New York City, NY ( – Officials with New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said a subway worker had died Wednesday after he was dragged under a train.

The accident happened around 12:15 a.m., MTA officials said. The worker, Hilarion Joseph, 57, worked as a flagger, helping other workers stay safe while performing work on the tracks. Officials said he was working on the track just south of the Herald Square Station in Manhattan, near Macy’s department store, when he was somehow dragged under a northbound train.

Officials said he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“There was work taking place, scheduled work. The fellow was flagging, and it's very much still under investigation on what went wrong.” MTA Chair Janno Lieber said during a meeting of the MTA board's safety committee. “Our folks were at the hospital last night with the worker’s family. Obviously they’re very much in our thoughts right now.”

NYC Transit President Rich Davey, asked for a moment of silence for the fallen worker during the meeting. Davey is in charge of the city’s subways and buses.

“These are dangerous jobs that we ask our people to do day in and day out,” Davey said.

Officials said the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the death.

After the accident, the MTA suspended all non-essential work on the tracks.

Representatives for the transit workers union, TWU Local 100, said Joseph was just a few days shy of reaching his one-year anniversary as a flagger. He was responsible for cleaning the track and going onto track to put out lights and other safety mechanisms to stop trains and alert operators of workers on the tracks.

“We work with moving trains they don’t stop service for us. There is no shutdowns. We work under continuous traffic every day,” said John Chiarello, treasurer and safety director for TWU Local 100 said during a press conference. “We are in danger at all times. Everyone that works on the tracks, track workers, signal maintainers, all subway workers on the tracks work under live traffic.”

The union called for an immediate 24-hour safety stand down. Union officials said they will take necessary measures to ensure another fatality never happens on the tracks.

The fatality comes at the end of a tumultuous year for transit agencies and workers. Earlier this year, in August, an MTA worker was injured when the bus he was driving collided with a bucket lift truck. An in May, an MTA subway conductor was shot in the face by a teenager carrying a Gel Blaster pellet gun.

Transit workers in other cities have seen similar hazards.

In November, two Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) workers in Pennsylvania were injured when they were hit by a track vehicle.

The two workers were working on the tracks when they were hit by the vehicle used for rail tie removal work on the railroad line. One employee , a 54-year-old man who had been with SEPTA for 23 years, was immediately taken to a nearby hospital in Radnor Township. The other was trapped under the track vehicle for an hour. Emergency crews and SEPTA personnel were able to free the man and get him stabilized before transferring him to the hospital. The 60-year-old worker had been with SEPTA for 30 years, and was treated and released.

"The Safety of SEPTA employees and customers is our top priority,” SEPTA officials said in a statement at the time. “A full investigation into this incident by the SEPTA System Safety Division is underway."

That incident came just a month after SEPTA employees were required to complete mandatory reinforcement training.

And in Boston earlier this year, federal transportation regulators identified safety incidents at the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), including one where a worker was seriously injured. The agency was ordered to change its training protocols before an employee was killed.

In a letter to Phillip Eng, the Federal Transit Administration said there is “a substantial risk” of death or injury on the agency’s tracks. The FTA cited numerous “close calls” and reports from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities of hazardous conditions.

“Given recent events, the results of FTA’s on-site inspections, reports from DPU, and the MBTA’s backlog of maintenance work which necessitates continued track access for work crews, FTA finds that a combination of unsafe conditions and practices exist such that there is a substantial risk of death or personal injury,” Joe DeLorenzo, an associate administrator and chief safety officer with the FTA, said his April 18, 2023 letter.

The FTA said that between March 13 and April 14 the MBTA had seen five “near miss events” where trains were dangerously close to workers. On April 13, an employee was seriously injured while working in a location they had not been given access to.

MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said that between March 2022 and February 2023, the transit agency had not reported any incidents where a train came close to hitting a worker.

“The MBTA believes its strong emphasis on improving the organization’s safety culture — such as encouraging employees to report safety concerns — is a contributing factor in the increased number of reported incidents,” Pesaturo told the Boston Globe at the time.

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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