A 15-year-old New York student lost his life subway-surfing on a Brooklyn elevated train. Officials notice this dangerous trend becoming more and more popular in the city that never sleeps despite several accidents claiming the lives of teens.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, Kavon Wooden lost his life after performing a stunt on the southbound J train.
The young man was riding on the top of the train car, according to the conductor who called officials when he witnessed the teens. But, it was too late. The teen tumbled from the roof with parts of his body touching the third rail as the train neared the Marcy Avenue station from Brooklyn to Manhattan. As a result, he was electrocuted.
PIX11 News reports officers from the New York Police Department arrived as soon as they could, pronouncing the boy dead at the scene.
While first responders and firefighters turned off power to the track in order to remove the remains of the deceased child, 700 passengers were evacuated from the train. Service on the line for the J and M trains, in both directions, was disrupted for several hours.
NYC Transit President Richard Davey released a statement about the hazard of subway surfing, saying, “Riding on top of subway cars is reckless, dumb and dangerous, frequently leading to tragedy for the person, family and friends. We implore parents to speak with their children about what can seem like a game but obviously is not,” according to NY1.
Pat Warren, MTA Chief Safety and Security Officer echoed Davey’s sentiments saying, “Riding on top of a subway car is reckless, extremely dangerous and inconsiderate as it causes significant delays for other New Yorkers.”
“Seeking a thrill that promises heartache for family and friends is foolhardy,” she continued. “Choose other avenues to have some fun, ones that demonstrate respect for those you care about.”
At the summer MTA board meeting, NYPD Chief of Transit Jason Wilcox reported subway surfing is an “unfortunate trending issue.” Although the practice dates back for several decades, since 2020 the city has experienced a 440 percent uptick in reported subway surfing incidents. By July, the MTA had 627 incidents of subway surfing in 2022, compared to 116 in 2020.
One example of this trend is the 15-year-old boy who suffered a severe head injury on June 24, surfing on the roof of a 7-train car inside the 111th Street station in North Corona, Queens.
Another 15-year-old, Hamza Mohamed, lost his arm after subway surfing with three friends on a Forest Hills-bound R train in the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave. station in Jackson Heights. The young boy fell off the train on Monday, Aug. 29, at 10:20 a.m., the Daily News reports.
What is subway surfing?
AMNY did an exposé about the phenomenon, where kids ride through the boroughs on top of the trains, on the sides by grabbing the doors or the chains connecting the cars, or hanging off the back car. Social media has also helped amplify the trend as kids are becoming TikTok, YouTube, and IG famous after posting their viral moments.
A-Dot, a 15-year-old surfer said of his viral fame, “We were going viral. We’d post it, start to get 10,000 views, maybe more, then (the video) would get shut down. Other kids wanted to be like us.”
Community leader Craig Housen believes it’s more than just clout, it is about the kids being bored.
Housen said, “This is not the first or second occurrence, and this is largely due to the fact that we are not making resources available to our Black and Hispanic youths of Williamsburg.”
“What happens is they find other ways and means to entertain themselves, and most of the time it’s not usually safe,” he said.