With all of its delays, derailments, and shutdowns, it’s hard to imagine the New York City subway getting any worse. But as it turns out, you can never underestimate how bad the Manhattan Transit Authority can be. NY1 reports that the MTA allegedly stores the deceased bodies of subway fatalities in its employee breakrooms. Yep, you read that right.
According to the Transport Workers Union, once a body is recovered from the subway tracks, it can sit for hours in the employees’ breakroom until the medical examiner arrives. Often, the door to the breakroom is unlocked, so unsuspecting employees could walk into a grisly surprise. "You have pieces, you have blood spatter," Derek Echevarria, the vice president of TWU Local 100, told NY1. "It could be any contamination or disease."
Not only is this alleged practice gross, but it also causes harm to MTA employees. Echevarria told NY1 that employees who come across the bodies are often sent home for the day because of what they’ve seen. “It’s unacceptable that transit workers have to endure this on the job,” the union said to AM New York.
When a body is found on subway tracks, it’s primarily the New York Police Department’s job to handle. According to MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek, the body is moved to a “non-public” space until the police can call a medical examiner. “It’s of the utmost importance that anyone who dies in the subway is removed from tracks and public spaces like platforms as quickly as possible, to restore service quickly, and to give humane treatment to the deceased and their family,” Tarek said in a statement to AM New York.
The main issue the union has with this practice is it can take more than two hours to remove the bodies from these spaces, which can be MTA break- or utility rooms. According to AM New York, the average wait time for an emergency medical examiner is just under two hours. “The medical examiner and NYPD are committed to reducing our response times even further to ensure both the humane treatment of the deceased and the health of subway workers and straphangers,” Tarek said in a statement.
According to DNAInfo, 48 people were killed by MTA subways in 2016. That’s the lowest amount of subway fatalities in five years.