In a devastating series of incidents, two 14-year-old boys lost their lives in separate “subway surfing” accidents in New York City within the past two weeks. These tragic events have raised concerns among local authorities about the dangerous practice and its impact on young lives.
The New York Police Department reported that Jevon Fraser, a 14-year-old from Canarsie, was discovered unconscious on Thursday at approximately 5:30 p.m. on the elevated train platform at the intersection of 33rd Street and Rawson Street in Queens. Emergency services responded to a 911 call, but Fraser succumbed to his injuries, which indicated a fall from an elevated height, after being transported to a hospital.
Exactly one week prior, on June 22, two other 14-year-old boys were found unresponsive with injuries on a train platform in Brooklyn. Brian Crespo tragically lost his life at the scene, while his companion survived the fall but suffered critical injuries. Investigators believe that both boys were riding atop the Manhattan-bound L train as it transitioned from an elevated track to a tunnel, leading to their unfortunate accidents.
Sonia, Brian’s mother, shared with the New York Daily News that her son had been days away from graduating eighth grade and aspired to become a detective before his life was tragically cut short due to a moment of youthful recklessness. Sonia mentioned that her son’s friends had pressured him into performing the dangerous stunt, and he succumbed to peer pressure.
Members of the other teen’s family informed the New York Daily News that he is currently recovering but may never regain the ability to walk.
While “subway surfing,” a term used by New Yorkers to describe riding atop train cars, has been a persistent practice since the city’s subway system was established in 1904, the NYPD has recently intensified efforts to discourage young individuals from engaging in such stunts. Authorities are cracking down on those who partake in subway surfing and even visiting families to educate and dissuade them from participating in this perilous activity.
Most subway surfers exploit the gaps between train cars to climb onto the roof, particularly on elevated tracks above the ground. The 7-line, which passes by Citi Field, and the J-line, which traverses the Williamsburg Bridge, have become particularly alluring to subway surfers due to the captivating views and scenery they offer, according to NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper.
Mayor Eric Adams of New York City has attributed the subway surfing deaths to the influence of apps like TikTok. In a press conference held at the Bushwick-Aberdeen station, where the two boys tragically fell, Adams emphasized the lethal consequences of subway surfing and expressed concern over the content that young people are exposed to on social media platforms.
In response to Mayor Adams’ remarks, a TikTok spokesperson informed CBS News that this perilous activity predates their platform, and they diligently remove any content promoting such behavior. The spokesperson highlighted the company’s commitment to community safety, employing over 40,000 safety professionals who work diligently to identify and remove harmful content.
As the city mourns the loss of these young lives, there is an urgent need for collective efforts from authorities, families, and communities to raise awareness about the dangers of subway surfing and foster an environment where young individuals can make informed choices that prioritize their well-being and safety.