"He was a great person, a veteran" who "everyone loved," Hilarion Joseph's son said
An on-duty MTA worker was fatally struck by a subway train in Manhattan on Wednesday morning.
Hilarion Joseph, 57, was alerting MTA train operators that there were workers on nearby tracks before authorities responded to a call around 12:20 a.m., the New York Police Department said in a statement to PEOPLE. The first responders were notified that Joseph came into contact with a northbound D train near the 34th Street-Herald Square subway station.
Joseph was then transported by emergency medical personnel to Bellevue Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The MTA then halted all non-essential track work for 24 hours. The NYPD and Transport Workers Union Local 100 officials said that an investigation into Joseph’s death is ongoing.
“He was fairly new,” the victim’s oldest son, Japeri Smith, 24, told the New York Daily News. “He loved the job. He wanted to make a career working there."
"He was a great person, a veteran," Smith continued. "He was from Trinidad. He was a father, an uncle, someone who everyone loved.”
Joseph, an MTA flagger, was doing a routine cleaning of the subway tracks, Richard Davis, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, said during an MTA press conference.
“He was the first employee closer to that train," Davis said. "So whether there was not enough clearance or whether he stumbled we don't know. But obviously, a flagger should not — under any circumstance — be coming into contact with the train."
Demetrius Crichlow, Senior Vice President of the New York City Transit Department of Subways, said they are “committed to safety," adding, "We go through all of the rules with on-track safety, how to keep yourself safe, how to step up out of the flagging zone, how to protect not just you but your co-workers as well.”
“This was something that we preach continuously and we have a fairly good track record of safety. So we just wanna make sure the employees are all being safe at this time, and recognizing this moment,” Crichlow added.
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“We lost a member of the MTA family last night. A track worker at 34 St - Herald Sq, work taking place, scheduled work, and the fellow was flagging, and very much still under investigation what went wrong,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said during a Safety Committee meeting Wednesday morning.
“Our folks were at the hospital last night with the worker’s family, and obviously they are very much in our thoughts right now," Lieber continued. "Difficult morning, most of all for those close to our colleagues."
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