A father who was killed by a subway train after another man pushed him onto the tracks struggled for a ‘whole minute’ to crawl back onto the platform as onlookers watched, according to a police source.
The chilling last moments of Ki Suk Han’s life were caught by photographer R. Umar Abbasi who snapped him looking at the oncoming downtown Q train just seconds before crushed him to death.
After receiving an avalanche of criticism, the freelance photographer today defended his decision to take the photo, rather than helping the stranded man saying: ‘The train hit the man before I could get to him, and nobody closer tried to pull him out.’
More than a minute – and possibly as long as 90 seconds – passed before the train pinned Mr Han between the well and train, a police source said.
‘I have to say I was surprised at the anger over the pictures, of the people who are saying: Why didn’t he put the camera down and pull him out? But I can’t let the armchair critics bother me,’ Abbassi wrote in the New York Post.
He said that after the train struck the father-of-one, he sprang into action and when a crowd started to take photos of him, he screamed at them to get back and told a woman to give Mr Han the last rites.
Today Mr Abbasi said he had not realised he had caught the man’s last moments on his camera in such vivid detail until he looked at the photos later that night.
‘When I finally looked at them late that night, my heart started racing. It was terrible, seeing it happen all over again. I didn’t sleep at all. All I can hear is that man’s head against that train: Boom! Boom! Boom!’
When the New York Post ran the terrifying photo and story Mr Abbasi explained in an interview that he was racing towards the oncoming train firing off his flash in a desperate attempt to get the driver to slow down.
He told the New York Post: ‘I just started running, running, hoping that the driver could see my flash.’
The photographer described seeing Mr Han being crushed ‘like a rag doll’.
Today the driver of the subway train which ran over Mr Han spoke of his desperate attempts to slam on the emergency breaks.
Motorman Terrence Legree said he saw Mr Han, but he could not stop the train before it crushed him.
‘I saw the guy, and I did what I was trained to do,’ he said. ‘You’re hopeful you’re going to stop, but you don’t have control of the train at that point.’
Mr Legree said he rushed out of his control booth and tried to help the man wedged between the subway car and the platform.
‘If someone can be saved, you have to do what you have to do,’ he told the New York Daily News.
The New York Post has been strongly criticised for using the heart-stopping image on their front page.
‘Even if you accept that that photographer and other bystanders did everything they could to try to save the man, it’s a separate question of what the Post should have done with that photo,’ Jeff Sonderman, a fellow at journalism think tank the Poynter Institute, wrote on the organization’s website.
‘All journalists we’ve seen talking about it online concluded the Post was wrong to use the photo, especially on its front page.’
‘NY Post should be ashamed of its misuse of humanity for its cover photo of a man about to be killed by a subway train,’ one person wrote on Twitter. ‘When does cruelty end.’
‘Snuff porn,’ another user labeled it.
Meanwhile a passenger who witnessed a man being crushed by a subway train today spoke of his anger at the failure of 18 people on the platform to save him – including the photographer who had time to take chilling pictures of his final moments.
Patrick Gomez, who admitted that he also ‘froze’ at the scene, said it was a ‘real shame’ that no-one had the courage to ‘step up’ and attempt to rescue Mr Han.
Gomez, 37, said: ‘People who were on the platform could have pulled him up but they didn’t have the courage. They just didn’t react like that.’
And he reserved his strongest criticism for photographer R. Umar Abbasi, who shot the chilling photograph of Mr Han watching as the subway train barreled towards him in the final moments.
The image appeared on the front page of the New York Post this morning with the headline ‘Doomed’. The 58-year-old can be seen looking at the train with his arms outstretched he tries to heave himself out of its path.
Mr Gomez spoke for millions who expressed their outrage today at the commuters on the Times Square platform who witnessed the man being pushed in front of the train but did not try to pull him to safety.
Many had moved away from an argument which was taking place between Mr Han and his suspected attacker, just moments before the fatal incident at around 12.30pm on Monday afternoon.
Source: The Daily Mail