Last week, a 31-year-old homeless man died after he fell off a moving 6 train while defecating between cars. The incident was startling not only because of its tragic nature, but also because it presented subway riders with a question they had surely never considered before: How often are people pooping between moving subway cars?
Answers are not easy to come by. The MTA, for one, doesn't seem to have any idea. "This is not a phenomenon we have studied or tracked," spokesman Adam Lisberg told us, before offering some general safety advice. "I would remind you that riding between cars has long been prohibited, and in 2005 we also prohibited crossing between cars. No matter what you’re doing in between cars, it’s incredibly dangerous to be there doing it."
If inter-car defecation is a frequent occurrence, it would be news to former MTA chief Lee Sanders, who resigned in 2009 after over two years on the job. "Have never heard of this before," he told us in an e-mail.
A search of Nexis and Google also turned up no news reports referring to defecation between subway cars, although someone did die in 2007 while urinating between cars in the Bronx. "The unidentified 37-year-old was allegedly urinating as she rode between cars on a northbound No. 2 train when she fell between the cars at 9:30 p.m. Thursday," according to the Post's police blotter. "The train had pulled out from the East Tremont station and was headed toward East 180th Street when the woman toppled over, police said."
As far as we can tell, then, you can sleep soundly during your next commute knowing that nobody is taking a dump a few feet away from you. Probably.