A Brief History of Death By Subway in NYC

A few highlights of death on New York City’s subways over the years

Feedloader (Clickability)

Who hasn’t experienced a momentary flash of dread when a subway train barrels past with a swoosh of rotten air? If I fell onto the tracks, the commuter or tourist might silently contemplate, there would be no saving me.

Unfortunately, throughout the years this nightmare scenario has played out time and time again. Animal New York put together a nifty infographic to illustrate the many varied and horrendous ways people have met their end on NYC’s subways and tracks. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • 1918 The Malbone Street Wreck: The deadliest single event ever to befall the subway system. Over 100 people were killed when a wooden five-car subway train derailed just before Prospect Park Station because an out-of-control driver took a particularly tight curve at 30 miles per hour when it was meant for just six. The passengers were crushed in their wooden train car.
  • 1928 Times Square Breakdown: A broken track switch at Times Square caused a subway car to crash straight into the wall, killing 16 and injuring 100.
  • 1969passenger was electrocuted when he inadvisably walked out of a stalled train into a tunnel and accidentally touched the third rail that delivers power to the trains.
  • 1991 Drunk Driving: Driver Robert Ray was drunk when he derailed a southbound 4 train, killing five passengers and injuring 200. He survived and was later convicted of manslaughter.
  • 1993  Subway Pusher: The 38-year-old Eloise Ellis shoved two passengers in front of two trains at two different stations over the course of one afternoon. Psychologists say pushers are often escaped or neglected mental patients who think they are defending themselves or “helping” their unwitting victims.
  • 2011 Passing Out: A woman in her 20s fainted and fell onto the tracks just before a 5 train rolled into a station.
  • 2012 Drunk Attack: A drunk homeless man named Ryan Beauchamp got into an unprovoked fight with college student Joshua Basin at the Bedford Avenue stop and dragged Basin onto the tracks. Beauchamp clambered out before the train came, but Basin wasn’t so lucky.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Subway Spy

Riding the Subway 

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.