After a second New Yorker was pushed to his death in a subway station last month, a pair of local pols are calling for the MTA to take measures to ensure the safety of city straphangers.
Sunando Sen, 46, was killed Thursday, December 27 when he was shoved in front of an oncoming No. 7 train at the 40th Street/Lowery Street station in Sunnyside.
Police arrested and charged Erika Menendez, 31, of Rego Park, with murder as a hate crime after the suspect allegedly told investigators she pushed Sen because of her scorn for Muslims and Hindus.
“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims. Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers I’ve been beating them up,” she allegedly told detectives.
Menendez, who was seen at the station muttering to herself before shoving Sen, is reportedly undergoing psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is mentally stable.
“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s worst nightmare — being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions can never be tolerated by a civilized society.”
This marked the second incident in December that someone was pushed to their death in a subway station. Ki-Suk Han, 58, of Elmhurst, was killed on December 3 when he was pushed in front of a Q train at the 49th Street-Seventh Avenue station. Suspect Naeem Davis was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Aside from the two push deaths, 52 other straphangers were killed on subway tracks this year, whether by accident or suicide.
Among the safety steps State Senator Jose Peralta and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer proposed to prevent further fatalities were installing sliding doors, an intercom system that could connect riders with the Rail Control Center and more security cameras.
“It does strike me that in a post-9/11 world that there are no cameras at any stop,” Van Bramer said at a recent press conference.
The station where Sen was killed did not have any working cameras; Menendez was captured fleeing by nearby surveillance cameras.
“In less than a month, two of my constituents have been pushed onto subway tracks and killed,” Peralta said. “I urge the MTA to immediately act on common-sense measures to improve rider safety and security.”
Installing barriers between passengers and the train would “be both expensive and extremely challenging,” the MTA said in a statement. The agency did say though that they are considering testing such equipment “on a limited basis.”
— Additional reporting by Maggie Hayes