Subway surfing deaths prompt NYC to strengthen prevention measures amid viral challenges

NYC proactively halts fatal train stunts: parent-educator collaboration, viral challenges scrutiny, and youth-focused interventions.

New York City again urges parents with teenagers to be vigilant against the dangerous trend of “subway surfing” or hitching a ride between or atop moving subway cars. This high-risk activity has already resulted in seven fatalities this year.

Michael Kemper, NYPD’s Chief of Transit, delivered an impassioned plea on Friday, stating, “We are going to continue to do everything on our part. We continue to investigate these challenges on social networks. And those who promote it will be arrested. But we ask families to talk to their children about these challenges that are not a game.”

In a virtual public safety briefing, alongside reporting on the city’s progress in combating crime, explicit appeals were made to parents and guardians. The focus emphasized their role in supervising and educating their wards to deter them from these deadly habits.

Concerns rise during the summer when millions of adolescents on vacation, facing copious free time with little supervision, might consider this risky behavior a pastime.

Predominantly, the victims have been 14 and 15-year-old teenagers lured by provocative posts shared on social media platforms.

The transit chief further urged, “We also implore our communities that upon detecting even one person’s intention to surf dangerously, in some of the Subway cars, to call 911 immediately.”

Recently, the police have identified multiple potential “surfers” and made house visits to inform parents and guardians about their child’s involvement in these hazardous practices.

The NYPD is partnering with the Department of Education (DOE) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to clamp down on this illegal and deadly activity. This joint task force aims to halt the surge of subway surfing, a pursuit that has resulted in over 70 arrests thus far.

Public school educators will integrate preventive lessons into their curriculum and host forums to address the issue comprehensively.

Police Chief Kemper added, “We are seeing teenagers who sadly cannot measure the consequences and are driven only by the immature emotion of having popularity on social platforms. It is everyone’s job to prevent more incidents.”

Two heartrending incidents recently took place. The latest occurred last June when a 14-year-old boy named Jevon Fraser died after falling from a subway car. He was discovered on the 7 train platform at 33rd Street-Rawson in Queens with fatal head injuries.

In the same week, another tragedy struck. Brian Crespo also lost his life while subway surfing, and his companion sustained injuries after plummeting from an L train car en route from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Findings by the Uniformed Investigation Teams, specifically trained to thwart viral stunt challenges in the transit system, point to the social network Tik Tok as the chief catalyst for these lethal games.

The number of such incidents significantly increased, with 928 cases reported in 2022, in stark contrast to 490 in 2019.