New York – For the second time this month, a man found an abrupt death in a New York City subway tunnel Thursday night. A mumbling woman, who witnesses have described as "Hispanic," pushed the man in front of an incoming 7 train, in Queens, and fled.
The man was standing on the elevated platform at about 8 p.m. and when the train pulled into the tracks, the woman got up from a nearby bench and shoved him down, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. The man, who has yet to be identified, had been standing with his back to her.
The woman was described as in her 20s, heavyset and about 5-foot-5, wearing a blue, white and gray ski jacket and Nike sneakers with gray on top and red on the bottom.
It was unclear if the man and the woman knew each other or if anyone tried to help the man up before he was struck by the train and killed.
Police released surveillance video Friday of her running away from the station. It was taken at a nearby intersection and it shows a woman dashing from a crosswalk and down a sidewalk.
Asked about the episode, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed to legal and policy changes that led to the release of many mentally ill people from psychiatric institutions from the 1960s through 1990s.
"The courts or the law have changed and said, no, you can't do that unless they're a danger to society; our laws protect you. That's fair enough," Bloomberg said on a radio interview Friday.
On Dec. 3, 58-year-old Ki-Suck Han was pushed in front of a train in Times Square. A photograph of him on the tracks a split second before he was killed was published on the front of the New York Post the next day, causing an uproar.
A homeless man, 30-year-old Naeem Davis, was charged with murder in Han's death and was ordered held without bail. He has pleaded not guilty and has said that Han was the aggressor and had attacked him first. The two men hadn't met before.
Being pushed onto the train tracks is a silent fear for many of the commuters who ride the city's subway a total of more than 5.2 million times on an average weekday, but deaths are rare.
Among the more high-profile cases was the January 1999 death of aspiring screenwriter Kendra Webdale, who was shoved by a former mental patient. After that, the state Legislature passed Kendra's Law, which lets mental health authorities supervise patients who live outside institutions to make sure they are taking their medications and aren't threats to safety.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.