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Student Dies After Falling From Subway Car In Manhattan

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A high school freshman riding on top of moving subway train in Manhattan to impress his friends hit his head on a beam and fell to his death Monday afternoon.

Eric Alvarez, a 14-year-old student at Chelsea Vocational High School in SoHo, was riding home with dozens of classmates on an uptown C train when he went through the door between cars and climbed on top, according to witnesses. He lost his grip, and a steel girder protruding from the ceiling knocked him off, the witnesses said.

The students notified the conductor when the train pulled into the next station, at 14th Street, but the boy had fallen to the tracks and the next train behind had already passed over him.

“Every day after school we would ride the train together. He would play around on the train,” said Lanija Watson, one of his friends. “But yesterday he wanted to go on top of the train to show off to his friends, but he couldn't come back down. So, he was screaming for help.”

Another friend had tried to grab his legs to save him, but he slipped through her hands.

“After a while, when he was on the side,” said that friend, Indee Sparrow, “everybody was asking, ÎWhat are you doing?’ Then when he got on the top, everybody was like, ÎGet down. Get down.’ And the first thing he yelled is, ÎOh my God, Indee help me.’ And I grabbed for his legs. And then he hit the back of the thing. All I felt was his legs fall out of my hands.”

The stunt, called “subway surfing” or “sky larking,” was popular among the freshmen class, according to teachers and students at Chelsea High School. One teacher told NY1 that the MTA had even been notified of the problem, and patrols were increased at the West 4th Street station, a few blocks from the school, to try to cut down on the horseplay.

His friends say that it was the first time that Alvarez, an honor student, ever attempted the stunt and that no one dared him to do it.

Now, Alvarez’s mother is mourning the death of her only child just a week after another close family member was buried.

“If any lesson is learned from this, it is that parents should talk to their children,” said Alvarez’s great aunt, Lillian Santos. “They need to tell them that these are dangerous games, that they could lose their lives.”

Transit officials said riding outside a train is a “fatal act.”

“The clearances in the tunnels are just designed to clear the cars, not to have other equipment on it,” said Lawrence Reuter, president of the MTA. ”We don't even put roof-matted air conditioners on the top of the cars, because the clearance is too small.”

The accident caused major delays on the A, C and E lines, and 14th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues was temporarily closed to accommodate emergency vehicles. The train that ran over Alvarez was held in the tunnel for about an hour, and passengers had no idea why until they got out.

"We just saw a lot of emergency service people,” said one of the riders. “They came by with a stretcher, and they were looking underneath the cars. This is my second time — I was on the subway in the blackout.’

Grief counselors were on hand as students returned to classes at Chelsea Vocational High School on Tuesday.

“That’s really dangerous for a kid to be doing,” said one student. “I don’t think I’ll be doing that.” ClientIP:,, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP