ASTORIA — A transit worker and father of three who was finishing planned signal maintenance in an Astoria subway station was fatally struck by a Parsons-Archer-bound E train early Wednesday, officials said.
Louis Moore, 58, was hit as the train pulled into 46th Street station about 3:21 a.m., NYPD and MTA officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene — nearly two years to the day since the last fatal MTA transit accident.
Investigators believe Moore was standing on a catwalk along the side of the subway tunnel, just beyond the station platform, when his bag was snatched up by the passing train, which then flung him onto the tracks, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and transit union chief John Samuelson said at press conferences Wednesday.
"He fell into the railroad tracks in front of an oncoming train," Samuelson said.
No criminality was suspected, and police said they were still investigating. The incident appears to have been the result of an accident, as opposed to an error, Samuelson said.
"We've had problems with the MTA over the last 20 years — the MTA is a very production driven outfit and has oftentimes in the past put production over workers' safety — but it doesn't look like that was what happened in this particular instance," Samuelson said.
The MTA also issued a statement following the incident, pledging that "an intensive investigation into the circumstances of his death is underway, and this incident will be the subject of a formal board of inquiry by the New York City Transit Office of System Safety."
Moore's death comes almost exactly two years after MTA maintenance supervisor James Knell fell onto an exposed third rail April 26, 2010. It also occurred nearly six years to the day since the last incident in which a worker, Marvin Franklin, was fatally struck by a train April 29, 2007.
"We work in the most unforgiving work environment in New York City," Samuelson said. "We work under live train traffic, we work around heavy industrial steel that makes this system what it is, we work around energized third rails, we work in the dark. We pay the price in blood often enough."
Moore, who worked eight years for the MTA, lived in Hollis with a 17-year-old daughter, the MTA said. He also had a 20-year-old daughter and 30-year-old son. Sobs and wails could be heard through the front door of his home Wednesday afternoon.
"The family's having a tough time," Carmen Bianco, acting president of New York City Transit, told reporters outside Moore's apartment. "We know that they are going through a lot, and we are going to be here for them any way that we can. We'll continue the investigation, and we'll try to determine to the best of our ability what happened to him and put measures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Neighbors and transit workers, who described Moore as "friendly" and "easygoing," said they were left shaken by his death on the tracks.
"I was sorry to hear what happened," said neighbor and MTA bus driver Dean Sainte. "As I came out I saw the chaplain, so I knew something was up."
Fellow transit worker Bob Mallon, 58, said he usually saw Moore when his shift ended at 10 p.m.
“He was one of our own. It could happen to anybody," Mallon said. "When he came to work today, he probably never thought that he wouldn’t be going home. It makes you not want to go out on the tracks for a while."