Arrest made in subway derailment caused by train striking debris on tracks in Manhattan

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Monday, September 21, 2020
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Arrest made in subway derailment caused by train striking debris on tracks in Manhattan

NEW YORK CITY (WPVI) -- A man has been arrested for allegedly tossing debris onto subway tracks in Manhattan Sunday morning, causing a train to derail and snarling service for much of the day.

Demetrius Harvard, 30, is charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, assault and criminal trespass.

Police said an investigation revealed Harvard was seen throwing construction debris on the express track at the 8th Avenue and 14th Street train station in Chelsea around 8:15 a.m.

After hours of suspensions, local service returned Sunday evening with delays, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced late Sunday full service was expected to be restored on the A/C/E lines by 5 a.m. Monday morning.

In Sunday's apparent act of sabotage, the front wheels went off the rails as the train pulled into the station and struck the tossed metal plate, with the car scraping against columns, damaging them, and shredding the exterior of the train.

"A northbound train came into contact with debris on the roadbed as it was pulling into the 14 Street - 8th Avenue station resulting in a wheel leaving the track," NYCT Interim President Sarah Feinberg said in a statement.

The two front wheel sets - four wheels in total - derailed to the west of the running rails, according to an MTA official.

Feinberg said as a result of the derailment the train's first car scraped four columns that separate the northbound express track from the southbound express track.

The MTA says the "heroic" crew was able to stop the train and safely discharge around 135 passengers at the station.

"This was an all-hands on deck emergency with transit workers from multiple divisions responding to assist riders and then begin repairing the extensive damage. It's a stark reminder that the MTA can't cut its front-line workers even if the federal government fails to provide funding in a COVID relief package," Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano said.

A fire department spokesperson said three of the riders suffered minor injuries. One person was taken to a hospital for evaluation and the other two declined treatment.

Due to the derailment, the MTA confirmed a loss of power to all four tracks.

Additionally, another train farther up the track near 34th Street remained in the tunnel due to the power loss. About 125 passengers were stranded for a short period of time, but the crew was able to remove those customers off the train safely.

The derailed train, however, did endure serious damage.

"We have significant damage to the train car itself," Head of Subways for NYC Transit Frank Jezycki said. "And significant damage to the trackbed and track components as well as some damage to the structural steel columns in between the tracks. We have track opponents including track, plates, clips, tires themselves. We have 100 feet of the third rail with damage and we have significant damage to the car itself. In some of the photos, the crash actually struck the steel."

Crews worked furiously Sunday to restore full service, before the Monday morning rush.