MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) — An on-duty MTA track worker died in a mishap with a subway train in Midtown overnight just one month shy of his one-year 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.
That is when he came into contact and was dragged by a slow-moving northbound D train. The train was going about 10 mph during the scheduled maintenance.
Joseph was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The victim was a flagger on the track work 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. Even my own room, he painted my room, he did the floors. He was everything to everybody.”
His family told Eyewitness News reporter Joe Torres that they still don’t know what exactly 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, obviously they are very much in our thoughts right now, it’s a difficult morning, most of all, for those of us 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, its been mentioned by a few folks that these are dangerous jobs that we ask are people to do day in and day out, that 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 train during an arson fire. In 2018, a track worker was killed after he fell and hit his head while cleaning up debris.
“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.”
“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 she passed away, she let go.”
His daughter says on December 1 they were going to feed the homeless, because it was something her grandma did every year.
Joseph leaves behind six kids ranging in age from 31 to 5.
Anthony Johnson has more on the investigation.
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