Commuter pushed to death in front of New York subway train

Woman aged 30 from Queens taken into custody in connection with episode

A Queens woman aged 46 was killed after being pushed in front of an oncoming subway train in Times Square this afternoon, the New York Police Department said.

Another woman, aged 30, also from Queens, was taken into custody in connection with the episode, but the police did not provide further details.

The attack took place at about 1:20pm local time (6.20pm Irish time), when a woman was pushed in front of a No 1 train.

Swarms of police and emergency workers converged on the bustling Times Square-42nd Street transit hub, and subway traffic was rerouted as emergency crews worked to remove the body, which was pinned under the third car of the train.

Based on a preliminary investigation, the police said the push appeared to be unprovoked.

Suspect lunged

The victim was standing on a train platform when the suspect, wearing a pink shirt and scarf, lunged at her, the New York Post reported, citing witnesses.

It was not immediately clear whether the suspect knew the victim, who police did not identify.

Cases involving people being pushed in front of subways are exceedingly rare, but when they occur, they strike at some of the deepest fears held by city dwellers.

In 2012, when Ki-Suck Han of Queens was struck and killed by a train in Manhattan, The New York Post published a front-page photograph of him on the tracks moments before his death.

Less than a month later, when another person was pushed in front of an oncoming train in an unprovoked attack, Michael R Bloomberg, the mayor at the time, sought to reassure jittery riders. "You can say it's only two out of the 3 or 4 million people who ride the subway every day, but two is two too many," Mr Bloomberg said. "I don't know that there is a way to prevent things. There is always going to be somebody, a deranged person."

In 1999, two attacks involving mentally ill people pushing unsuspecting victims into the path of oncoming trains, one fatally, led to legislation giving families the right to demand court-ordered outpatient psychiatric treatment for their ill relatives.

Known as Kendra’s Law, it permits state judges to order closely monitored outpatient treatment for seriously mentally ill people who have records of failing to take medication, and who have frequently been hospitalised or jailed or have exhibited violent behaviour.

The law was named for Kendra Webdale (32), who was pushed to her death by a young man, Andrew Goldstein. He had stopped taking medication he had been prescribed for schizophrenia.

New York Times/Reuters