A tragedy occurred in Midtown last night when an on-duty MTA track worker lost his life in an accident involving a subway train. It is heartbreaking to know that this incident happened just a month before his one-year anniversary with the agency.
Hilarion Joseph, aged 57, was a member of a cleaning crew stationed just south of the 34 St-Herald Square station. This incident took place shortly before 12:15 a.m.
He was involved in an accident when he encountered and was pulled by a slow-moving northbound D train. The train was traveling at approximately 10 mph while undergoing scheduled maintenance.
Joseph was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where medical professionals declared him deceased.
The victim, who was a flagger on the track work crew, was performing the task of collecting trash from the tracks. In his role as a flagger, his responsibility was to notify approaching trains about ongoing track work further along the line.
Hilarion Joseph meant the world to his family, even though the MTA saw him as just a track worker. As a Gulf War veteran, he had served his country with honor and distinction. But beyond his role at work, he was a beloved husband, father, and friend.
“He meant the world to me,” expressed Jewel Joseph, the daughter of the victim. “I could confide in him about anything and everything. Whenever I needed assistance, my dad was always there. He even took the time to paint and redo my room. He was truly a pillar of support for everyone.”
The family of the victim expressed to Eyewitness News reporter Joe Torres that they remain unaware of the exact details surrounding the incident.
“I want to understand what went wrong,” expressed Angela Joseph, the sister of the victim. She shared her concerns, stating, “I know that if he sees a train approaching, he will jump.”
“We don’t know whether there was not enough clearance or if he stumbled, but it is clear that a flagger should never come into contact with the train under any circumstances,” stated Rich Davey, NYC Transit President.
According to Davey, there are cameras installed at the station. However, it remains unclear whether these cameras would capture any relevant footage, considering the incident took place down in the tunnel.
The MTA Chair and CEO, Janno Lieber, stated that the incident is still being investigated in order to ascertain the cause of the mishap.
“Our team members accompanied the worker’s family to the hospital last night. It’s clear that they are at the forefront of our minds during this challenging time. This morning is particularly tough for those of us who were close to our colleague,” Lieber expressed.
Transit work that was scheduled to take place in the next 24 hours has been temporarily suspended, with the exception of emergency work.
Davey stated that the company is using this opportunity to update and train its employees on track safety protocols. He acknowledged that some individuals have expressed concerns about the hazardous nature of these jobs, particularly for those working directly on the tracks.
An MTA worker tragically lost their life in 2020 while bravely evacuating a burning drain during an arson fire. Similarly, in 2018, a track worker suffered a fatal accident when they fell and hit their head while diligently clearing away debris.
“We face an inherent risk in our job as we work on the tracks amidst live train traffic. It doesn’t get any more dangerous than that,” highlighted John Chiarello, the Safety Director of TWU.
While the family anxiously awaits answers, Joseph’s niece recounts her recent journey from New Jersey to his home on Wednesday morning.
“We came here to celebrate Thanksgiving,” Alexandra Phillip-Hernandez shared. “I decided to visit them for the weekend so we could spend quality time together. It was important to me. I was determined to prioritize family during this break.”
On December 1st of last year, Jewel Joseph shared a heartfelt story about her father’s experience. She revealed that her grandmother passed away, but before her departure, her father visited her in the hospital. In a tender moment, he whispered into her ear, “Mommy, I got the job at MTA.” Shortly after, her grandmother peacefully let go. This touching anecdote highlights the significance of a father’s achievement and the bittersweet connection between loved ones.
On December 1, his daughter shared that they had planned to feed the homeless. This was a tradition that her grandmother had faithfully carried out each year.
Joseph’s legacy includes six children, whose ages range from 31 to 5.