A 30-year-old Bronx man has been arrested in connection with the Manhattan subway derailment that led to extensive delays and injured three passengers Sunday, the NYPD said.
Demetrius Harvard is charged with reckless endangerment, assault, trespassing and criminal mischief for allegedly throwing construction debris — left unattended by the MTA — onto the northbound A track at 14th Street shortly after 8 a.m. that morning.
MTA officials said that the materials thrown onto the tracks are routinely stored securely at various sites around the city. Harvard has been under investigation previously for placing a sandbag on the tracks at Fulton Street, according to officials.
In Sunday's case, the train made contact with the debris and the first car derailed. which caused the first car on a subway train to derail upon entering the station.
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One of its wheels also scraped several columns that separate the north and southbound tracks at the station, New York City Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said in a statement. Part of the train's metal shell was sheared off.
About 134 passengers were aboard the train at the time of the accident, the MTA confirmed. At least three of those passengers suffered minor injuries but two declined medical transport, the FDNY said. The Transit Workers Union said it's miraculous that the number of serious injuries was so low.
"We are absolutely fortunate that this didn't turn out much, much worse," said the TWU's Eric Loegel. "When you have people in society who are more high-risk, unpredictable, volatile, and nothing's being done, the likelihood of these sorts of incidents increases."
The union said that the train operator, who has only been on the job for a year and a half, deserves a lot of credit for his quick and calm reaction — which likely saved lives during to the derailment.
Extensive delays rippled throughout the city's trains as the subsequent investigation impacted A, C, D, E and F trains that use the 14th Street station.
Harvard's latest arrest was on Sept. 5, when he was accused of smashing an MTA bus window with a metal barricade. Law enforcement sources told NBC New York that Harvard had 23 prior arrests.
The latest incident sparked further concerns about safety in the subways and how Harvard was able to get onto the tracks in the first place. The union said that the city and the MTA need to beef up the police presence underground, while other groups have said that repeat offenders like Harvard should be banned from the subways altogether.
"What the subway really needs is an officer at every station, in two shifts," said Charlton D'Souza, of Passengers United. "Not only should (Harvard) be banned, he should be put in prison."
Full service was expected to resume for Monday morning's commute, but there may be residual delays as transit workers continue to inspect several hundred feet of track and columns for damage.
At his arraignment Monday evening, Harvard's bail was set at $50,000. He was represented by Cody Warner of the Legal Aid Society, and is next expected to be in court on Friday.