MTA worker killed by subway train

An on-duty MTA track worker died in a mishap with a subway train in Midtown overnight, just one month shy of his first anniversary with the agency. Hilarion Joseph, 57, was part of a cleaning crew just south of the 34 St. Herald Square station just before 12:15 a.m

The train was going about 10 mph during the scheduled maintenance. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The victim was a flagger on the trackwork crew, collecting trash from the tracks. As a flagger, he was responsible for alerting oncoming trains to track work further down the line.

To the MTA, Hilarion Joseph, a Gulf War veteran, was a track worker, but to his family, he was everything. “He was my world,” the victim’s daughter, Jewel Joseph, said. “I’d tell him anything, everything, anything I’d need help with; he helped my dad. He even painted my own room and did the floors. He was everything to everybody.”

MTA Worker Killed by Subway Train

His family told Eyewitness News reporter Joe Torres that they still don’t know what happened. “I know if he sees a train coming, he will jump. So I want to know what went wrong,” the victim’s sister, Angela Joseph, said. “Whether there was not enough clearance, whether he stumbled, we don’t know, but obviously, a flagger should, under any circumstance, shouldn’t be coming into contact with the train,” said NYC Transit President Rich Davey.  Davey said there are cameras at the station, but given where this occurred, which was down to the tunnel, it’s unclear if those cameras would provide any relevant footage.

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said the incident remains under investigation to determine what went wrong.  “Our folks were at the hospital last night with the worker’s family. They are in our thoughts right now; most of all, it’s a difficult morning for those close to our colleague,” Lieber said. Scheduled transit work, except for emergency work, has been suspended for the next 24 hours.

“We are taking the opportunity to refresh and retrain our employees on protocols when it comes to track safety; a few folks have mentioned that these are dangerous jobs that we ask people to do daily, which includes folks working on the tracks,” Davey said.

The last time an MTA worker died on the job was in 2020 while evacuating a burning drain during an arson fire. In 2018, a track worker was killed after he fell on his head while cleaning up debris.

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“We have an inherent risk in the job because we are on the tracks doing work on the live train traffic; it doesn’t get more dangerous than that,” said TWU Safety Director John Chiarello. As the family waits for answers, Joseph’s niece says she drove back to his home from New Jersey Wednesday morning. A trip she just made.

“We were here for Thanksgiving,” Alexandra Phillip-Hernandez said. “I came over for the break for the weekend just to hang out with them. I made it my duty. I’m going to make this family time.”

“On December 1 last year, my dad’s mom passed away,” Jewel Joseph said. “And before she passed away, he went to the hospital and whispered into her ear, ‘Mommy, I got the job at MTA.’ And when she passed away, she let go.” His daughter says on December 1, they would feed the homeless because it was something her grandma did every year. Joseph leaves behind six kids, ranging in age from 31 to 5.

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