As we mentioned earlier, a man fell onto the subway tracks at Times Square this morning and was electrocuted by the third rail. The incident happened just before 7 a.m. on the northbound 2 and 3 train tracks at 42nd Street. We spoke to a witness who was at the station at the time: "Part of his body was touching the third rail," witness Jon Ross told us. "It was kind of where his head meets his shoulder. It might have been his neck touching the rail. He was not moving at all."
Ross, who was on his way to work in Harlem at the time, was up in the concourse about to go down the stairs when he heard people screaming, 'Someone is on the tracks, get help, get help.' "At that point I didn't really look," he said, noting the platform was pretty sparse at this point, with only 10-15 people there. "I just turned around and one person was clicking on the intercom, one person started calling 911, and I went to the token booth to tell the person there that someone was on the tracks."
Police now say no criminality is suspected, and they think the victim, believed to be in his 30s, may have committed suicide. Ross said it wasn't clear at the time how the man ended up on the tracks, but after the MTA was on the scene and it was clear they had shut off the power, he left the station. "Once I saw he was getting helped, I wanted to leave the area," he said. "I was also kind of disgusted because some people were taking pictures, which was morbid curiosity, and I thought that was pretty gross."
"Right before I left, I heard one of the MTA workers who was on the platform—he wasn't one of the ones on the tracks—telling people to clear away and let them do what they needed to do, and don't gawk."
Ross isn't sure what changes could be made in the future to prevent people from falling onto the tracks or getting hit by a subway (another man reportedly accidentally fell onto the tracks in lower Manhattan today as well). But he did note the importance of the countdown clocks: "In this situation, they helped a little bit. Because when I heard someone fell and I looked at the clock, I saw six minutes till the next train and I thought, 'OK, we have time to stop the train.' But now I guess he must have died immediately when he hit the third rail."