New York Daily News

TRAIN PAIN

Motorman snaps after seeing a suicide

- BY DALE W. EISINGER, RYAN SIT, DAN RIVOLI and GRAHAM RAYMAN With Todd Maisel

A DEVASTATED motorman was so distraught after watching a man jump in front of his train and kill himself in Brooklyn Monday that he had to be cuffed for his own safety, officials said.

The jumper was killed at the R train station at Fourth Ave. and 77th St. in Bay Ridge at about 10 a.m., authoritie­s said.

After witnessing the grisly suicide, operator Michael Catalano, 51, who has been working for the MTA since 1993, ran onto the tracks and down the tunnel before coming back out, sources said.

Cops led Catalano, dressed in an orange constructi­on vest, away from the scene in handcuffs after the incident. He was taken to Lutheran Hospital via ambulance.

“In my 20-plus years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” a police source said of the operator’s reaction.

MTA spokeswoma­n Beth DeFalco said he was “being uncooperat­ive.”

After answering police questions, the operator was released without charges, according to Transport Workers Union Local 100.

When reached at home, Catalano’s mother Eleanor said he was unable to comment, saying he was trying to get over the traumatic event. “We just want him to rest,” she told the Daily News. “That’s a rough experience.”

The union’s vice president of transit operations, Kia Phua, said the operator was extremely upset.

This was Catalano’s first encounter with a fatal jump, known as a 12-9 among transit workers, according to a TWU official.

“They did that for his own safety because he was acting erratic,” Phua said. “He wasn’t in the right state of mind.”

A witness said the train was heading into Manhattan when it suddenly stopped as if “someone pulled the emergency switch.”

Another witness, Robert Brassell, described a chaotic scene as the packed train stopped about a fifth of the way down the platform.

“The conductor started yelling. He was like, ‘Everybody off,’ whatever, a lot of attitude,” Brassell said. “You have to ask what the hell happened. This is a big thing.”

Brassell also said a man was banging on the window from outside of the train, yelling, “What the f--- is going on?”

At Lutheran Hospital, Catalano took a blood test at the hospital for drugs and alcohol while NYC Transit officials administer­ed a Breathalyz­er and urine test, according to the TWU, which did not have the results. The train’s conductor was tested for drugs and alcohol under MTA protocol.

Reached by phone, the train conductor said, “I can’t talk to you right now,” before hanging up.

In a statement, the union said workers who see a suicide by train often need years of therapy.

“Operating a train in the NYC subway system is incredibly unique and stressful,” the union said in a statement.

“You can’t exaggerate the horror and emotional trauma that an operator experience­s when someone jumps in front of his or her train to commit suicide,” the statement added.

 ??  ?? Michael Catalano (top) had to be handcuffed and taken away by police as he became distraught after a man killed himself by leaping in front of Catalano’s R train in Brooklyn Monday.
Michael Catalano (top) had to be handcuffed and taken away by police as he became distraught after a man killed himself by leaping in front of Catalano’s R train in Brooklyn Monday.

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