On Thursday evening, July 2, at the start of the July 4 weekend, a Long Island Rail Road commuter fell between the gap of the train and station platform at the Great Neck station. The eastbound 5:11 p.m. Port Washington-bound train pulled into the station at approximately 5:45 p.m. Passengers were offboarding at the Great Neck station, which had a considerable number of commuters waiting to get on the train. During the melee, a petite woman was attempting to disembark the car, misstepped and plunged to the tracks below.
Nicholas Kavourias of Manhasset was a commuter on the train. “I was in the next car [from where the victim fell] when the train stopped at Great Neck,” said Kavourias. After the express train stopped at it’s first stop in Great Neck to let off commuters, a passenger on the train cried out, “Stop the train!” Commuters flocked outside the car to see what was happening, he said. They saw a crowd gathered around the area where an injured passenger was seen beneath the train but were supervised by train personnel not to touch the victim who was lying conscious by the tracks. According to Kavourias, no notification was given to the passengers on the train as to what the situation was.
Railroad conductors called in emergency assistance and the electrical current to the tracks was disabled so that first responders could assist the hurt passenger. Chief Forst of Vigilant Fire Department found a 65-year-old woman under the train platform. Forst reported the woman was “calm and complaining of minor injuries.” While Chief Forst worked with the LIRR Movement Bureau and the MTA Police to ensure that power was off to the 750-volt third rail and coordinated the rescue effort, the volunteer members descended to the track below to assess and extricate the injured woman. Second Assistant Chief Justin Sachmechi, Second Lieutenant Joseph Oginski and Nassau County Police Department Emergency Ambulance Bureau Paramedic Matthew Gordon found the patient was conscious, alert and had minor injuries. Afterward, they said that their challenge would be extricating the woman from the tight space and removing her without further injury.
The rescue took over a half hour once the firefighters from Vigilant Fire Company determined the victim could not be pulled through the gap she fell from. The woman was strapped to a backboard and carried under the train to safety. According to LIRR officials, the woman suffered bruising after she lost her balance and fell between the platform and the train car. She was taken to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset for evaluation.
“It teaches you a little bit of a lesson, to look where you are going,” said Kavourias.
Service was disrupted on the Port Washington line and several trains were canceled in both directions
due to the incident. After a delay, service was resumed on the Port Washington branch.