A 30-year-old woman was in critical condition Wednesday after being pushed into a moving subway train in Manhattan by a man whom law enforcement officials described as emotionally disturbed.
The woman was on the platform at the 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue station shortly after noon when she was shoved against a departing E train, the police said. Witnesses said the man was talking to himself before he pushed the woman, according to the officials. They said it was a random attack.
The woman fell into the subway tracks after her head hit the train, Michael Kemper, the Police Department’s chief of transit, said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Chief Kemper said that “good Samaritans” helped her back onto the platform.
She was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in critical condition, police officials said. The police were seeking the suspect, whom Chief Kemper identified as Sabir Jones, 39. Chief Kemper described Mr. Jones as “known to the department.”
The chance of becoming a crime victim on the subway is low, but high-profile attacks have fed fears over security in a system that is battling to win back riders. The sudden shove in particular is a perennial urban nightmare.
Through Oct. 15, there had been 15 people pushed off subway platforms in the city this year. There were 22 in the same time period last year, according to the police. Officials could not say how many of the shovings resulted in serious injuries.
In May, a woman was critically injured after a man shoved her head against a moving subway train at the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station. The woman, Emine Yilmaz Ozsoy, 35, was partially paralyzed in the attack.
The last fatal subway push occurred in January 2022, when Michelle Go, 40, was shoved into the tracks at the Times Square subway station and hit by an arriving R train. Martial Simon, 61, a schizophrenic homeless man who had a history of erratic behavior, was charged with second-degree murder in Ms. Go’s death but deemed unfit to stand trial.
Hours after Wednesday’s attack, police officers were still turning away people by the dozens at an entrance to the 53rd Street station.
Natalie Tanner, 23, who was visiting from Ottawa, said she was troubled to learn that someone had been pushed but would continue using the subway because it was the cheapest and quickest way to navigate the city.
“This is like something out of a TV show,” Ms. Tanner said. “It’s unbelievable.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed reporting.