Police say a homeless man has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly pushing a 72-year-old man onto a subway platform in Manhattan Friday afternoon.
Rudralall Baldao, 57, was also charged with assault for shoving the man onto the train platform at 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue at around 4:30 p.m.
Police say straphangers at the station helped the man, who had been waiting for the A train with his wife, back up before a train came. He remained hospitalized Saturday, having suffered a fractured skull and broken collarbone.
Information on a lawyer for Baldao was not immediately available.
Corrosion and oxidation are being repaired in the signal relay room the South Ferry subway station in lower Manhattan, devastated by flooding in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The station is being repaired with damage done to all components of the infrastructure, especially the electrical system.
By Carlo Dellaverson, Digital Producer, NBC News
When the gleaming South Ferry subway terminal in Lower Manhattan opened in 2009, it came with a vast concourse filled with public art installations of wrought iron and smoked glass, polished white walls—and a hefty $500 million price tag.
The cost of rehabilitating it from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy? At least $600 million—though a full assessment of the damage hasn’t even been done yet.
“It’s a complete gut job,” said MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz. “Every component of the station needs to be replaced.”
As communities rebuild and residents return to their homes, dozens of workers at the South Ferry station are taking the very first steps toward getting the station back online, starting with scrubbing mold from virtually every surface. Before the storm, 30,000 people passed through South Ferry each day, shuttling between Staten Island and Manhattan and around the labyrinthine streets of New York’s financial district.
Craig Ruttle / AP file (top), Cr
Joseph Leader (top) of the MTA shines a flashlight on standing water inside the South Ferry 1 train station in lower Manhattan on Oct. 31, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Six months later, Leader (bottom) descends the stairs toward the track in the same station.
Now, the stillness of the station is unsettling. The 90-foot platform sits empty, with strings of construction bulbs lighting two tracks and tunnel walls still covered with debris and dirt from the storm. Drywall and tiles have been ripped up by construction workers to expose the film of mold that quickly built up in the dark, humid space after the storm hit six months ago. The air is thick and pungent.
But the greatest damage inflicted from Sandy is not visible. The salty ocean water that flooded the station eighty feet below street level corroded nearly every piece of equipment in the space, adding considerably to the cost of recovery.
Over 700 relay components – devices critical to the signaling systems of trains – were destroyed. A separate room of signaling equipment at the end of the platform flooded to the ceiling and is now a “complete loss,” said Joseph Leader, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chief maintenance officer, who is overseeing the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the station.
Leader was actually the first person to see the damage from Sandy’s storm surge. On the morning after the storm passed late last October, Leader entered the station and saw “just a trickle” of water coming down the stairs, he said.
“I thought our barriers held and that we were doing good,” he said, referring to the makeshift barricades –sandbags and plywood -- the MTA constructed at the street-level entrances of certain exposed stations.
But as Leader ventured further, he realized the surge had breached the main station entrance. “Water was coming up the steps at me from the platform level, lapping at my feet,” he said. The entire subway "tube" was filled to the brim; 14 million gallons of seawater had to be pumped out before officials could even get a look at the destruction.
South Ferry was designed to be the last stop on a busy line that follows Broadway as it snakes through Manhattan as well as a connector to another main subway artery and the Staten Island Ferry. The original station, which opened in 1905, was much maligned for a layout quirk that only allowed five of ten subway cars to open at the platform; inattentive straphangers who neglected to move to one of the cars with open doors were forced to take the “loop” back uptown one stop to exit.
While the new South Ferry station addressed many of the engineering problems that existed at the old station, the possibility that a 14-foot storm surge could take it offline in the span of a few hours was not accounted for.
Craig Ruttle / Craig Ruttle for NBC News
The subway map, with mold spreading up from the bottom, can be seen on the platform after being under water at the damaged South Ferry subway station in lower Manhattan. The station is being repaired with damage done to all components of the infrastructure, especially the electrical system.
The MTA says it is now “considering all options” that would mitigate the effects of a similar or even lesser surge as it rebuilds South Ferry, along with other vulnerable parts of its city-wide network (Sandy also wiped out an entire above-ground section of a subway line in the Rockaway section of Queens that is yet to be reopened).
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo laid some of these ideas out in his State of the State speech earlier this year, calling for subway stations to adopt “closing vents…roll down doors… inflatable bladders,” and repeating his refrain that “there is a 100 year flood every two years now” as reason to invest in infrastructure improvements.
One of the options under consideration involves letting subway tunnels and stations flood in a storm – but only after workers have removed valuable pieces of equipment and taken them to higher ground. This use of “modular infrastructure" allows critical gear to be packed up like suitcases and brought to higher ground so it can be “plugged right back in” after the pumps have removed the water from tunnels and stations, Leader said.
“Can you stop every ounce of water that comes into the system? Theoretically yes,” Leader said. “But is it feasible? Probably not.”
Footing the bill, at least in part, will be the feds. The MTA has received $1.2 billion to date in federal funding as part of the $51 billion Sandy relief bill signed by President Obama in January. It is asking for billions more (the total hit to New York’s transit system from Sandy is estimated to be $5 billion). The MTA plans a bifurcated approach to how that money is spent: partially for repairs to damaged infrastructure in places like South Ferry, and partially toward making long-term improvements that would harden and protect the system in future storms.
“As we work to bring our system back to normal, we must also make the necessary investments to protect this 108-year old system from future storms. We must rebuild smarter. The South Ferry subway station is a perfect example,” said MTA Chief Executive Thomas Prendergast.
Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who specializes in urban economics and infrastructure, cautions that federal money is “apt to disappear quickly in cost overruns” and that the MTA should carefully examine precisely how it can apply the aid to projects that will keep the system from suffering catastrophic damage in the next storm, and not on “complex and untested mitigation efforts” that may not work.
Craig Ruttle for NBC News
Joseph Leader of MTA holds an example of cable damaged by sea water in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, typical of damage found at South Ferry subway station.
“Otherwise, this ‘free money’ from the feds doesn’t end up being free at all, and taxpayers end up on the hook,” Gelinas said.
The MTA recently reopened the old South Ferry station, which was entombed next to the new terminal after its grand opening four years ago – the first time the authority has ever brought a decommissioned station back into use, Leader said. Engineers knocked down a wall between the two stations to allow passengers to get to the old platform area through the new entrance. It’s a way to reestablish subway service to the area, however imperfect. “We’re building a new station within a new station,” Joe Leader said. “It’s going to take a while.”
Until that monumental task is completed, commuters in Lower Manhattan will need to reacquaint themselves with a once-familiar phrase thought to be relegated to history:
“You must be in the first five cars to exit at South Ferry.”
MTA Video Release: Hurricane Sandy - South Ferry and Whitehall St Station Damage.
Santiago Muñoz, 14, seen here waiting to transfer to the 4 train in Manhattan in January, had one of the world's longest commutes -- until last week.
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News
Think you have a lousy commute? Don't complain to Santiago Munoz.
The New York City 14-year-old spent five hours a day on subways and buses to get to his elite high school, earning him recognition in a United Nations exhibition about the world's longest school commutes.
His days of waking up at 5 a.m. are over, though. Last week, the freshman moved to a new public-housing complex that's closer to the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, and now it only takes him an hour and 10 minutes to get to class.
"I used to take two buses and two trains," Munoz said Tuesday. "It was two and a half hours each way."
He said "some people thought I was crazy" to make the long journey from the Far Rockaway section of Queens to the Bronx when he could have gone to a high school closer to home, but he put education over convenience.
"Bronx Science is a great school and has a great reputation and I just wanted to push myself forward," said Munoz, who hopes to become a doctor.
Munoz's daily odyssey was featured in a United Nations exhibit that also highlighted a Kenyan girl who walked two hours to school, Brazilian children who ride mules, and a Thai girl who walks 40 minutes to board a crowded rickshaw.
The math whiz said that after housing officials saw a New York Post story about his plight, they offered his family a transfer.
A spokeswoman for the New York City Housing Authority said that since his previous apartment was affected by superstorm Sandy, Munoz was eligible for a move.
Now that he's in north Brooklyn, he said, "I'm getting more sleep and I'm more productive."
A member of the math team, he hopes he can play some sports and hang out with friends more with all that extra time on his hand.
While he's thrilled to be traveling less, he said he would have continued to endure the longer trek for the chance to graduate from a school that counts eight Nobel Prize winners among its alumni.
The incident happened at about 2:40 a.m. Sunday at Columbus Circle, when a man in his twenties hit his head and stumbled onto the tracks at the 1 train platform. The next train was supposed to arrive in two minutes when 22-year-old Garrett O'Hanlon jumped onto the tracks.
"I looked over and saw him down there, and everyone started to scream," the Air Force cadet from Dallas, Texas, told NBC 4 New York Monday. "After that, it was almost like a blur, it happened so quickly."
Seeing O'Hanlon struggle with the unconscious and bleeding man, 23-year-old Dennis Codrington jumped in, along with his friend from Poughkeepsie, 23-year-old Matt Foley. The three worked quickly as the train approached.
"He had to be 220 to 240, he was a very heavy man," said O'Hanlon. "I couldn't lift him by myself."
Codrington, a personal trainer at Equinox who lives in Washington Heights, told NBC 4 New York, "It was really surreal. I can't tell you what I was thinking when I was down there. The last thing that went through my head was just get the guy off the tracks."
The three men were still struggling to lift the man on the tracks onto the platform when other straphangers pitched in. "The people on the platform were pulling him up, pulling us up," said O'Hanlon. "It was like collaboration of teamwork." The three heroes got up just in time. First responders rushed the unconscious man to a hospital. His condition was unclear.
Codrington soon boarded a train to go back to work, and O'Hanlon had a flight to catch back to the Air Force Academy in Colorado. "To witness something like that, witness someone almost being killed, it just puts a lot of things in perspective for me," said Codrington.
The victim was able to flee through the turnstile. He was later treated for cuts on his head.
Police are looking for three teens, ages 17 to 19, each weighing 150 pounds and about 5 feet 8 inches tall. One was wearing a gray jacket and yellow and burgundy baseball hat, one was wearing a gray jacket and green baseball hat and the third was wearing a black t-shirt and gray and black checkered scarf.
PHILADELPHIA -- A woman escaped with only cuts and bruises after being thrown onto subway tracks during a vicious attack in Philadelphia.
The assailant and the 23-year-old victim were alone at the SEPTA subway station in the city's Chinatown on Tuesday afternoon. After being asked to help light a cigarette, the woman was assaulted, dragged onto the landing and then thrown onto the tracks.
SEPTA Chief of Police Thomas Nestel said the woman was fortunate to walk away with only minor injuries.
"It's horrifying," Nestel added. " When you see that happen, you think the worst. We all know that there is a tremendous electric source. You touch that, you die."
Nestel said he decided to not immediately release the video and culprit's description because the attacker had worn a very distinct jacket and he was confident that was their best lead.
Subway trains in New York are entering stations more slowly because of a union safety directive made in the wake of deaths of two passengers pushed onto the tracks.
The city’s transit workers union put out advisory signs instructing drivers to take greater caution, but the MTA says the move throws off subway schedules and is counterproductive to straphanger safety.
The union says having trains enter stations more slowly helps train operators stop if someone suddenly jumps or gets pushed onto the tracks.
According to the union, the normal speed for trains to enter the station is 30 or 40 miles per hour. But after the union released advisories over the weekend, trains are entering stations closer to 10 miles per hour.
Now-former Subway employee Lawrence Ordone told TV station WFTV he was working behind the counter at the sandwich restaurant in an Orlando Walmart on New Year's night, when a man ordered a Philly cheesesteak.
"He (the customer) wants ketchup on the Philly cheesesteak and I have never put -- we don't even have ketchup at Subway -- I've never put ketchup on anybody's sandwich," Ordone told WFTV.
The restaurant chain -- famed for its "$5 footlongs" and diet commercials with "Subway Guy" Jared Fogle -- does not offer ketchup, according to a menu on the Subway website. Only condiments like mustard, mayo, vinegar and oil are available.
When the customer, Luis Martinez, rejected the ketchup-free sandwich, another customer in line offered to buy it, WFTV reported.
It's disputed what exactly happened next. Ordone claims Martinez mouthed off to the customer, so he came around the counter, and he told WFTV he felt threatened when Martinez said he had "something" for him and walked toward his car.
Martinez claims Ordone threatened to kill him in front of his wife and called 911, WFTV reported.
"I was scared," Martinez told WFTV. "Next thing, I'm thinking a gun's going to come out."
By the time the police arrived, Ordone reportedly had fled the scene.
Whatever the details, Ordone said he regrets his actions that led to his dismissal. "You can go buy your own ketchup, and I promise to God, you can put as much as you want on it and nobody's going to say nothing," he told WFTV.
A spokesperson at Subway's corporate headquarters did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment Friday.
(Hear it in their own words: Ordone and Martinez separately tell their sides of the story to WFTV.)
By Andrew Siff and Shimon Prokupecz, NBCNewYork.com
Two New York police officers were shot by an armed subway rider in Brooklyn and an off-duty officer was shot during an attempted robbery at a Bronx auto shop in the span of an hour Thursday, bringing the number of NYPD cops wounded by gunfire in the first three days of 2013 to a quarter of the total shot all of last year, authorities said.
In Brooklyn, a lieutenant and three officers assigned to the transit division were in plainclothes on patrol in two subway cars of a Manhattan-bound N train shortly after 7:30 p.m. when they noticed a man moving illegally between the cars. Officers Lukasz Kozicki and Michael Levay stopped the man as the train pulled up to the Fort Hamilton Parkway stop in Dyker Heights, intending to question him and pull him off the subway, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday evening.
When asked for identification, the suspect appeared to reach for a wallet, but pulled out a 9-millimeter Taurus and opened fire on the officers, Kelly said. Kozicki, 32, was hit three times -- once in each thigh and once in the groin. Levay, 27, was hit once in the lower back but was able to return fire, fatally shooting the suspect.
One passenger was grazed in the gunfire exchange and wasn't seriously hurt, Kelly said. Other passengers on the train were able to flee onto the platform when the gunfire erupted. The station was not crowded at the time of the incident, Kelly said.
Kozicki and Levay were taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where they were listed in stable condition and are expected to make full recoveries. A witness told police the gunman appeared to notice the officers' bullet-resistant vests and aimed low before he fired.
The unidentified suspect had a past criminal record of five assaults, including one with a knife, officials said.
Earlier Thursday, an off-duty officer wasshot in the Bronxduring an apparent robbery attempt. Officer Juan Pichardo was working at his family's dealership when two men, one of them armed with a handgun, walked into the store and, after pretending to be interested in a vehicle, brandished the weapon.
Pichardo was shot in the leg during the fracas that ensued; he was not armed. He and another employee managed to wrestle one of the suspects to the ground and disarm him. The second suspect who had entered the store fled to a getaway vehicle outside the building, while Pichardo held the other suspect until police arrived. Police caught up with the getaway car a short time later and arrested three occupants inside. Their identities are unknown.
Pichardo was taken to the hospital with a bullet wound to the leg, but is expected to be OK. He was the third NYPD officer to be shot on Thursday, the third day of the year. Only 12 police officers were shot in all of 2012, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.
“In recent weeks, we've heard some people say that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But sometimes the good guys get shot – and sometimes, they are killed," the mayor said Thursday night from the hospital where the two officers wounded in the Brooklyn incident were recovering. "Tonight, thank God, three good guys – three New York City police officers, who acted heroically – are going to make it. But we owe it to the good guys to do whatever we can to protect them – just as they do whatever they can to protect us. Instead, Washington is letting the bad guys shoot our police officers, our children, our neighbors – and it just has to stop."
Bloomberg's "good guys with guns" remark was an apparent retort to the National Rifle Association'srecent statementthat "the only thing that stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." The mayor has been a vocal advocate for tighter gun control.
By Shimon Prokupecz and Gus Rosendale, NBCNewYork.com
Police are looking for a woman who was seen mumbling to herself before she allegedly pushed an unsuspecting man to his death in front of an oncoming No. 7 train at a Queens subway station Thursday evening, police said.
The man was standing on the northbound platform of the 40th Street and Queens Boulevard elevated train when police say the woman walked up behind him and pushed him onto the tracks. Witnesses told police the man had his back to the woman and didn't appear to notice her. No words were exchanged.
The man died at the scene. His identity has not been released.
Witnesses told police the female suspect had been walking back and forth on the platform and talking to herself before sitting down, alone, on a wooden bench near the north end of the walkway. When the train pulled into the station shortly after 8 p.m., the woman got up off the bench and pushed the man, according to witness statements.
The suspect then fled the platform, running down a flight of stairs to the turnstile area and down a second flight to Queens Boulevard. It's unknown where she went from there. Police released surveillance video of her running onto the street.
The suspect is described as being a heavyset woman about 5 feet 5 inches tall with brown or blond hair. She was wearing a white and gray ski jacket and Nike sneakers at the time of the incident.
It is the second time this month that a person has been shoved onto subway train tracks and killed.
Naeem Davis, a 30-year-old deli worker, was recently arrested and charged with second-degree murder for allegedly pushing a man off a midtown subway platform to his death.
Ki-Suk Han, 58, was stuck by a southbound Q train after being pushed off the platform at the 49th Street station in Manhattan Dec. 3.