New York City subway motorman James Muriel was driving the D train on Sunday when he saw a man fly in front of the windshield. Although he applied the brakes immediately, he could not prevent his train from striking the man. Muriel says that he closed his eyes when the man made impact with the train, and then he began to cry. Speaking on Monday to the Daily News, Muriel said that he instantly knew that the man had been pushed in front of the train because of the speed and manner by which he flew over the track as well as the reaction of the people on the platform who witnessed the incident. New York City police have identified and are actively seeking the suspect who fatally pushed the stranger in the path of a coming train with no provocation.
Wai Kuen Kwok, 61, was a regular man on a regular outing with his wife in New York City when he was suddenly murdered. The attacker is believed to be a 34-year-old with violent crime in his past. Police are still working to positively identify the man and to apprehend him.
Kwok’s wife, Yow Ho Lee, witnessed the death of her husband, a kitchen supply company worker with two grown sons. The couple had been traveling to New York City’s Chinatown for shopping and breakfast. The 59-year-old told detectives that the attacker and her husband had not spoken before the push, which occurred at 8:45 a.m., and that she did not recognize the suspect.
After Muriel’s train came to a stop, the 53-year-old man, with 16 years of being a motorman under his belt, knew that it was his duty to exit the train in order to determine if Kwok had somehow miraculously survived. He recalls that he was so upset he could barely walk. Passengers assisted him with exiting the cab so that he could perform the grim duty of locating the body. He found Kwok dead under the third car. Passengers from the train and those who had been on the platform were “crying, even grown men,” said Muriel.
After the fatal push, the murderer ran from the scene and boarded a bus. Although he did not possess a valid Metrocard, he was able to ride the bus for three stops before getting off at Jesup Avenue and Edward L. Grant Highway. While he silently rode the bus, multiple witnesses to the push of Kwok were also aboard discussing what had happened and completely unaware that the attacker was in their midst.
A video of the suspect has been released by investigators and circulated throughout New York City. He looks to be balding and stocky and is wearing a black T-shirt with white letters, a black leather jacket, dark jeans and white sneakers.
Unfortunately, this was not the first time Muriel’s train became involved in a tragedy. The motorman is still coping with an incident which took place last year in which a man intent on committing suicide jumped in front of his train. The emotional aftermath of that incident gave Muriel nightmares and depression kept him out of work for six months. In light of today’s tragic murder, he is considering retiring as soon as he is eligible, which is still 20 months away.
In the past two years, there have been three similar incidents in the New York City subways. In April of 2013, a man was run over by a train in Manhattan after an argument with a homeless person resulted in his being pushed onto the tracks. Two others were killed after being pushed in front of a train in December 2012. In one incident, police apprehended a homeless man who pushed a rider in front of a train in Times Square. Another man was pushed in front of a train by an incoherent woman in Queens.
By Jennifer Pfalz