An MTA employee was struck and killed by a northbound D train at the 34th St.-Herald Sq. subway station, causing the transit agency to pause all non-essential track work for 24 hours. The incident happened in the wee hours of Wednesday, November 29.
Hilarion Joseph, 57, had been working on a cleanup crew. He had reportedly been “flagging”–or alerting incoming trains that workers were on the tracks–when he was dragged under the train. According to the NYPD, paramedics responded to a 911 call alerting them of the collision at around 12:20 a.m. Joseph was transported to NYC Health and Hospitals/Bellevue, where he was pronounced dead.
TWU Local 100, the transit union that counted Joseph as a member, mourned his passing in an online post: “The TWU is devastated by the line-of-duty death of a @TWULocal100 Track Division member hit by a train under Manhattan today–a tragic reminder of the extreme danger of track work. As NYC sleeps, TWU men & women are exposed to harm’s way while toiling to deliver rush-hour service.”
Transit officials addressed the incident in a scheduled committee meeting that began later that morning. “I have to start by acknowledging that we lost a member of the MTA family last night...a track worker at 34th St. Herald Sq. There was work taking place, scheduled work. The fellow was flagging...[it’s] very much still under investigation what went wrong,” MTA Chair Janno Lieber said. He appeared visibly shocked.
“There’s been a safety stand-down of all New York City transit work, non-essential work. Our folks were at the hospital last night with the worker’s family, and obviously they’re very much in our thoughts right now,” he added.
Later, NYC Transit President Richard Davey took a turn at the podium to note that “we obviously take employee safety seriously, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Davey clarified that the pause in track work would be accompanied by employee reflection: “We’re taking the opportunity to refresh and retrain our employees on our protocols, when it comes to [those on] track safety. It’s been mentioned by a few folks that these are dangerous jobs that we ask our people to do, day in and day out.”
He then paused to honor a moment of silence for Joseph, asking that New Yorkers streaming the committee meeting at home join him.