March 13, 2010

"I guess she dropped her purse. Except you never do that. Never."

The 82-year-old father of the woman who died after jumped onto the subway track, supposedly to retrieve a dropped bag. "It’s too late now... I’ll be praying for the rest of my life, until I die."

The woman, Rose M. Markos, was a graduate of NYU School of Law.

36 comments:

bagoh20 said...

The simplest decision can decide everything for you, and you make them all day long.

Ann Althouse said...

Never pit yourself against a train.

Leland said...

So she was a formerlawstudent...

EDH said...

They say "God protects drunks and fools."

Well, drunks, anyway.

traditionalguy said...

The tragedy here is immense. In the early industrial revolution the meme of overpowering strength that crushed the good and the evil alike was a Train. The size and power and demonic looks of steam fired locomotives seemed to best represent the end of the world (as we know it ) barrelling out of control at people 200 years ago. Only the names have been changed in the story today.

joewxman said...

Something doesnt ring right here. The 77th street platform on the lexington ave line gives you a pretty clear view of an oncoming train from the tunnel. The platform also is hollow underneath so if need be you can easily and safely hover underneath until the train leaves the station. Sounds like a suicide to me.

kentuckyliz said...

48--too young to retire. Didn't mention any work since 2008. Not married, so no hubby income to fall back on.

Staged suicide?

kentuckyliz said...

I didn't see Joe's comment before posting mine, and I don't know anything about the platform...I was just profiling. Sounds like the Army of Davids make some good armchair detectives.

ironrailsironweights said...

Something doesnt ring right here. The 77th street platform on the lexington ave line gives you a pretty clear view of an oncoming train from the tunnel. The platform also is hollow underneath so if need be you can easily and safely hover underneath until the train leaves the station. Sounds like a suicide to me.

Not necessarily. Climbing back to the platform from track level is far more difficult that it would appear from platform level. She probably thought she'd have ample time to climb back up after retrieving her bag, only to find out too late that the climb was nearly impossible.

The hollow area under the platform edge does not offer survival space, because the train's third-rail pickup shoes intrude into it.

Peter

Fred4Pres said...

Subways and falling in front of them always give me pause.

But this seems weird. Usually trains coming into the station start to slow considerably and you can see them coming. Suicide is definitely a possibility.

kentuckyliz said...

Were there other people on the platform? Did they try to help her up? Or did they Kitty Genovese her and just stood there watching her panic and die?

Ann Althouse said...

Would you reach down to pull up a struggling woman as the train was bearing down on her? It's not a Kitty Genovese situation because of the very real physical danger in trying to help. How big was the woman?

Who jumps down to pick something dropped on the tracks? It's a long way down. It's not easy to jump back up. Who would try that?

The father's quote is telling.

Stephen Snell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kent said...

"... and her, a law school graduate!"

WV: "bingl" = a high-pitched bungle

Jeff with one 'f' said...

It's a start!

debbie said...

"Something doesnt ring right here. The 77th street platform on the lexington ave line gives you a pretty clear view of an oncoming train from the tunnel."

That may be part of the problem. I used the 77th street stop to get to work for many years. While you do see trains approaching long before they enter the station, they look like they're far off up until they're practically in the station. It's tough to judge the distance accurately.

Penny said...

A change of clothes, my wallet and some deodorant is exactly what I'd pack for my suicide jump.

William said...

It does look a little suspicicious, but the presence of mortal danger can make people stupid and confused.

joewxman said...

The "third" rail is on the opposite side of the platform and not on the inside. Im not arm chair quarterbacking here but the whole story makes no sense to me. Who goes after a bag on subway tracks? And how did the bag fall. Slid off her shoulder perhaps as she leaned over to see if the train was coming? Its all very bizzare.

ironrailsironweights said...

The "third" rail is on the opposite side of the platform and not on the inside. Im not arm chair quarterbacking here but the whole story makes no sense to me. Who goes after a bag on subway tracks?

Trains have third rail pickup shoes on both sides. The shoes on the side of the train next to the platform would have extended into the space under the platform and eliminated any survival space, and in any event they would be energized.

There have been a number of cases of people climbing down to track level to retrieve dropped objects and then being unable to get back up in time. Looking down from the platform, it seems as if climbing up from the tracks isn't all that hard, but when you're actually on the tracks the platform is a *long* way up. I found this out myself several years ago while doing some "urban exploring" of a long-abandoned subway tunnel near Yankee Stadium.

I'm actually a bit surprised at all the media attention this case has gotten. On average about one person a week is struck by a subway in New York, though surprisingly enough by no means all of the cases are fatal.

Peter

Joe said...

She just forgot to put the gear into neutral.

Oh, wrong topic.

MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

The reporters, Al Baker and Cara Buckley, think it was suicide. They chronicled the trivial nature of the contents of the bag to leave the reader pondering -- who jumps in front of a train and risks their life for gym clothes and deodorant? They are able to avoid charges of bias because they are, after all, simply reporting objective facts.

On a side note, the message scribbled on the notebook at the chapel in the woods posted early this week seems to apply again, just as it did with the Corey Haim death (while I'm not sure Haim intentionally overdosed, he was on a self destructive path).

"help me for I am lost ... "

That'a a fairly common prayer, but for some reason it's stuck with me.

tim maguire said...

I've jumped down onto the tracks to retrieve something several times. I always look first to see what's coming (and usually get scolded by someone after wards). It's not that dangerous if you're physically healthy--the trains don't sneak up on you.

Peter's right that it's not a good idea to hide in that hollow underneath the platform, but nearly all tracks have a trough running between the rails specifically to provide a safe place if you get caught down there when a train pulls in.

Robert Cook said...

"I've jumped down onto the tracks to retrieve something several times. I always look first to see what's coming (and usually get scolded by someone after wards)."

What kind of oaf drops stuff on the subway tracks "several times?" What kind of idiot jumps down "several times" to retrieve the serially dropped stuff?

Sorry, I've lived in NYC almost 30 years and I've never dropped anything on the tracks. If I did, I would contact station management and ask for help in retrieving the dropped item...IF it warranted retrieval. Endangering yourself so foolishly is beyond stupid.

raf said...

This may be the first time I have ever agreed with Robert Cook

Penny said...

Raf and Cookie found a "point of intersection"!

Makes me and Dave Eggers a little bit happier for the both of them.

David said...

This is a terrible story.

Practically no one mentions the poor sad father, praying until he dies.

God help him.

Nichevo said...

Never voluntarily went down in the tracks. Looks like five, six feet from tracks to lip of the platform, no?

I assure you it's more than three feet. I know this because once at City Hall (or was it Astor Place or Union Square) I slipped at a bend in the tracks (it was wet) and went down to my hips, well, my crotch, with one leg between platform and train.

My Business Organization and Management professor said later that he never saw anybody move as fast as he saw me move, that I pulled myself up out of the hole faster than I went down.

I believe you call that "motivation."

Anyway, greasy nasty sharp and high up, rats on the tracks, lots of books and movies with people smushed or cut in half...yeah no, call on the emergency phone or go to the tollbooth, they'll help you. Hell, just the hesitation over messing up your clothes can be life and death.

The dangerous-est thing I ever chose to do was hop on a just-started train between the cars, defeat the safety gates from the outside, and wriggle in.

I never would have done it, wouldn't have thought to do it, but a guy in front of me went and I guess my I-can-do-that light went on.

If I fell or went to save someone, I am pretty strong and could horse a small person up or help 'em at any rate. Wouldn't like it though.

I had thought I'd seen someone duck under the platform, in a movie, so thought that would work: thanks for the warning (assuming you claim authority, I wouldn't care to test it!)

I have noticed spaces between columns across from the platform, and spaces between the tracks, that seem like they would work. In extremis, I suppose I would get on the ties between the tracks and lie down flatter than I ever lay before. Is this treated in any of the Worst-Case Survival Guide books?

...It may have been self-murder, but stupidity is always a safe first assumption till disproven. I could see jumping in for a wallet; these days, might go in for my Treo. I wouldn't do it (unless I thought conditions were ideal) but I could SEE doing it.

Flexo said...

Would you reach down to pull up a struggling woman as the train was bearing down on her?


Stranger jumps in front of subway to save passed-out woman
February 17, 2010

Get this man a cape.

A brave Brooklyn adman looked more like Superman when he jumped in front of an oncoming subway train to rescue an 18-year-old fashion student who fainted and fell unconscious onto the tracks. . . .

Houston transit cop saved woman from train on Inauguration Day
January 22, 2009

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's a frightening scenario, almost a staple of action movies: Someone has fallen onto subway tracks, and a train is rumbling into the station.

For a heart-stopping moment, the train is certain to strike the fallen person, until rescue comes at the last possible second. . . .

ironrailsironweights said...

nearly all tracks have a trough running between the rails specifically to provide a safe place if you get caught down there when a train pulls in

Troughs are there for water drainage. Some are large enough to provide survival space while others are not. Even the larger ones are sometimes used for storing spare rails, in the process making them unusable for shelter.

Peter

Lynne said...

Props to Stephen Snell for the Anna Karenina reference.

Jeremy said...

Why, if the woman was planning a suicide, would sh bring the bag along in the first place? Why would she first drop the bag, then jump in to retrieve it? Why not just wait, then jump in front of an oncoming train?

She made a very big mistake and paid for it with her life.

I feel horrible for the grieving father.

Skipper50 said...

Life/death. A very fine line.

Denever said...

"Why, if the woman was planning a suicide, would sh bring the bag along in the first place? Why would she first drop the bag, then jump in to retrieve it? Why not just wait, then jump in front of an oncoming train?"

To preserve the illusion that it wasn't suicide, probably for the sake of her father. Even if he suspects it wasn't an accident, the way she did it leaves room for doubt. Simply jumping in front of the train wouldn't have left him even that.

Flexo said...

Why?

Did she have life insurance (which typically has exclusions for suicide)?

Denever said...

As I said, "probably for the sake of her father."

If it's an accident, that's bad enough for a father to deal with, but not nearly as bad as wondering why your daughter was so unhappy that she would kill herself, thinking you should have realized what her state of mind was, and thinking that if you had, maybe you could have prevented it.