Michael Steinberg isn't mad at the man who brutally carved him open on a subway platform with a chainsaw in 2006—"He was a sick man. I forgive him," he says—but you better believe he is still pissed at the MTA and the contractors who left their power tools out and about for his attacker, Tareyton Williams, to grab. And, now, almost six years after the incident, 70-year-old Steinberg is finally going to get his day in court.
"Nobody should suffer like I'm suffering. I'm a nervous wreck. I cry, I have dreams. Emotionally, I'm like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Steinberg told the Post this week of life after the attack. "It's had a profound effect on my life."
In case you've forgotten (which, lucky you) here's what happened to Steinberg: On July 6, 2006, at the 110th and Broadway station Steinberg was heading to an overnight shift at the post office. Around 3:30 a.m., Steinberg, standing near the token booth for safety, suddenly found himself face to face with a clearly troubled man, Tareyton Williams, wielding two power saws he apparently found lying around in the station. With little warning the man simply walked up to Steinberg and started carving into him. Here's how Steinberg described it a day afterward:
The motor kept going on and he was trying to cut through me.
He never stopped. For two, three, four times he never stopped.
I screamed for help. "Please help! Please help me!"
The ... people [construction workers] heard me. They just looked. They never stopped to help me, and that disturbed me more than anything else. I begged for somebody to call an ambulance and to get this guy off me.
He never spoke. I think he was out of his mind...
...I was bleeding everyplace. No transit employee ever came over to me to see how I was doing. They just kept doing their job.
That's what upsets me more than anything else. There were at least six of them there, and they could have gotten him off me. It's a sad commentary on how people just don't give a damn.
At the end, when he was finished he said, "Give me your money."
Williams took Steinberg's money ($200 and some credit cards) and was soon caught in Riverside Park. Less than a year later he was sentenced to 18 years in prison (he was surprisingly found fit for trial). Meanwhile Steinberg—who was told by a doctor that if the saw "had penetrated just one millimeter deeper, he’d have been dead."—somehow managed to find it in him to forgive his attacker. But those people who just stood around watching? Not so much! He's still fuming that they just stood around—and that they left their tools lying around.
Steinberg tried to sue both the MTA and the contractors working for the Authority over their carelessness, but a judge dropped the MTA from the case citing governmental immunity. Still, the case against Five Stars Electric Corp., the contractors, goes on. Steinberg has sued for unspecified damages for his physical and emotional injuries and the case heads to court this week.