A Manhattan subway train jumped the tracks on Sunday morning at 14th Street station near Eighth Avenue after a vandal tossed metal clamps onto the tracks. This bizarre attack disrupted services on several lines, where work is on full swing to get back to normalcy by Monday morning, police said. The brazen act caused one of New York City's most catastrophic train derailments in years.
Three passengers suffered minor injuries but authorities believe that it could have taken the shape of a fatal accident. The alleged saboteur Demetrius Harvard, 30, has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, assault and criminal trespassing, police said.
Interim NYC Transit President Sarah Feinberg said a northbound 'A' train struck debris on the tracks as it was pulling into the station, causing the wheels on the front car to derail. The train then scraped four columns that separate northbound and southbound tracks, Feinberg said. The train's four front wheels derailed, and the surrounding damage is considered extensive.
Commuters saw the suspect, Harvard, laughing at the disaster he unleashed. On noticing this, Good Samaritans held him at the station until cops took him into custody. Following this, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren said the incident was nothing but "some form of vandalism." Police said Harvard threw the debris onto the track, which was later identified as a metal tie plate or D plate.
Police also launched an investigation into the incident but equipment malfunction and human error on the part of the train's crew have been ruled out as the cause of the derailment, MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren said. The train was carrying 135 passengers at that time. All were safely evacuated from the train, according to MTA officials, while the power was shut off on all four tracks serving the station.
As a result of the power loss, a northbound 'A' train with 125 people on board was stuck in the tunnel near 34th Street. All of those passengers were also safely removed from the train by MTA workers. Three passengers suffered minor injuries. One refused medical attention, another was treated at the scene and the third was taken to Bellevue Hospital for further treatment,
Criminal Bent of Mind
Frank Jezycki, NYC Transit's senior vice president of subways, said they hope to have service fully restored by Monday morning before rush hour, but warned that there is "a lot of work ahead." According to police, Harvard is emotionally disturbed and homeless and has an extensive criminal history.
Just weeks ago on September 5, police said he threw a metal barricade through an MTA bus window in Chelsea, near Eighth Avenue and West 22nd Street. Police also said that Harvard has been arrested 21 times for incidents that include burglary and disorderly conduct.
Subway derailments are rare and few cause as much damage as Sunday's. A track derailment in July 2017, caused by a rail improperly attached to the road bed, hurt 39 straphangers and cost the MTA $3.4 million. In September 2019, an F train with roughly 195 straphangers aboard jumped the tracks beneath Hillside Ave. in Jamaica, Queens.