No warning before boys pushed onto subway tracks

An eastbound train pulls in to Dufferin subway station, where two teens were pushed onto the tracks Feb. 13, 2009.

An eastbound train pulls in to Dufferin subway station, where two teens were pushed onto the tracks Feb. 13, 2009.


Alleged subway attacker ‘came out of nowhere,’ says one teen victim

Nick Aveling – Feb 15, 2009 12:09 AM

Suddenly they were falling onto the subway tracks with a train coming.

Jacob Greenspon was out celebrating his birthday with two Grade 9 classmates from Northern Secondary School.

He turned 15 the day before, and on Friday, with schools closed for teacher development, he and the others were out having fun.

At 4:45p.m. they were waiting on the eastbound platform at Dufferin subway station when a stranger approached and shoved all three teens toward the tracks.

“They didn’t see anybody lurking, there had been no conversation with this man, no threat, nothing had been uttered,” Jacob’s father, Edward Greenspon, said yesterday.

“He came out of nowhere,” said one of the boys, who kept his balance.

Jacob and the friend he had known since Grade 4 tumbled over the edge.

“I can only imagine the disorientation … how terrified and how paralyzed you might be by that,” said the elder Greenspon, editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail.

The train’s driver watched the boys fall, and hit the brakes, a TTC spokesperson said. But speed and momentum meant the train kept on coming, finally lurching to a stop 1 1/2 to two cars into the station and, ominously, over the two boys, who’d disappeared over the edge.

“I couldn’t see what was happening,” recalled the third boy. “I didn’t know if they were alive or not.”

But down at track level, showing acute presence of mind as the train screeched toward them, the friend, spotting a crawl space under the platform ledge, first shouted at Jacob, then pulled him by his clothing to safety, averting death.

The train grazed Jacob’s left foot but otherwise both were okay.

As the train stopped, the subway driver jumped out and ran to the platform’s end, cutting power to the electrified third rail. Meanwhile, someone standing metres away hit the alarm in the Designated Waiting Area, alerting ticket collectors upstairs of a man fleeing their way.

Yesterday, Greenspon said his son “is doing well” after his ordeal.

“He had some surgery last night on his foot. … There might be some problem with some blood supply down there. They’ll be looking at that. If there is any damage it will (likely) be purely cosmetic.”

All signs point to a random act, the father added.

Police agreed.

“There’s no motive, no reason at this point why he did it,” said Toronto police Det. Donald Gerry, the officer in charge of the investigation.

Greenspon said his son was “bewildered by how somebody can push kids onto the track at a subway station with the train coming. He wants to understand that.

“I also want to know what happened, what led up to this,” Greenspon said. “If there was some breakdown in the various mental health systems or legal systems … I want to know about that.”

Three psychiatric drugs were requested in court for the man charged in connection with the events, which include assault against a TTC collector and a bystander who tackled the stranger as he was fleeing, investigators said.

Adenir DeOliveira, 47, of Toronto, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault.

Duty counsel Al Hart asked that DeOliveira be given access to three prescription drugs: Effexor, used to treat anxiety and depression; Lorazepam, used to relieve the short-term symptoms of anxiety; and Seroquel, used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia as well as acute manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.

A psychiatric evaluation has also been ordered for DeOliveira.

Dressed in a yellow fleece jacket and white pants, DeOliveira leaned heavily on a wooden railing and appeared slightly dazed and unresponsive when asked if he understood the charges against him.

A bail hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Gerry praised the actions of the boys.

“These kids in my mind are heroes. Their actions are unbelievable considering their age,” he said.

“It also showed how the people of Toronto worked together. The TTC personnel were on top of everything – from the operator who stopped the train to the ticket collectors being right there. And the community helped locate the guy. So in a bad situation, it was nice to see some positives.”

Standing outside Old City Hall courthouse with his son’s two friends, Edward Greenspon also spoke highly of all three boys, students at the high school at Mt. Pleasant Rd. near Eglinton Ave. E.

“They’re a great bunch of guys, very together and very supportive of each other,” he said, crediting one with saving his son’s life.

“I guess they gave (my son) the best birthday present they could.”

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