NY railway staff rescue a three-year-old boy from railway tracks

Dramatic moment NY Metro North railway staff rescue a non-verbal 3-year-old boy who wanders onto railway tracks by the Hudson River as train approaches

  • An autistic 3-year-old boy was seen climbing over railway tracks near Tarrytown, New York
  • Railway workers stopped a train and rescued him from the electrified third rail
  • Five Metro-North staff were awarded commendations for the successful rescue 

A 3-year-old boy with non-verbal autism was rescued by railway workers who saw him clambering over electrified tracks by the Hudson River in New York.

The toddler was first spotted by an engineer on a train traveling south along adjacent Metro-North tracks at a speed of about 70mph.

The engineer immediately put out an emergency call to an approaching northbound train which then came to a stop, allowing a conductor from that train to run down the tracks and rescue the boy.

As the conductor arrived, he saw the boy climbing over the powered and potentially lethal third rail, protected only by a wooden shroud. 

The boy was not injured and, once on board the train, was reunited with his mother at a train station. She said she had been looking for him for over an hour and that she only turned her back for a moment while he was playing in a park.

A 3-year-old boy with nonverbal autism was rescued by railway workers who saw him clambering over electrified tracks by the Hudson River in New York. Assistant Conductor Marcus Higgins is seen beside the track with the boy

Conductor Higgins, who was on Metro-North Train 737, is pictured running 40 yards down the northbound tracks to rescue the boy

The boy’s mother said she had been in the park with her son and that after turning her back briefly he got away. The boy was eventually reunited with her around an hour after first going missing

The incident happened on April 6 around 3:15pm when engineer William Kennedy caught a glimpse of the toddler on tracks to his left, just north of Tarrytown Station.

Engineer Shawn Loughran was on northbound Train 737, which was on the same tracks as the boy. After hearing the call, he brought the train to a halt and proceeded forward cautiously until the child was visible.

‘Emergency, emergency, emergency,’ he was heard saying over the radio. ‘Metro-North 737 Hudson. We need you to kill the rail, we’ve got a toddler here on the tracks.’ 

In a video of the rescue, railway workers were heard scouring the tracks for the boy as the train moved forward slowly. ‘Just keep it under 50,’ one of the engineers is heard saying. 

‘This toddler’s running on the third rail, over,’ he the said over the radio. ‘I need that rail killed immediately.’

Once they saw the boy, Assistant Conductor Marcus Higgins got down from the train, and was recorded by cameras running 40 yards down the track towards him. He then scooped him up and took him to the side of the track to wait for the train.

‘This is unbelievable, I thought that was a bag,’ said one of the men operating the train. ‘No I could tell by the way he was moving,’ responded another. ‘I just couldn’t tell how big the person was.’

The boy was taken onto the train and back to Tarrytown Station where he was reunited with his mother and sister, who were seen by police sobbing on a street corner

A view from Beekman Avenue of the stretch of northbound track the boy had been climbing on. Fifty meters to the right is Barnhart Park

Around the same time, two signal maintainers were also heading to the area to help after hearing reports that the boy had been seen.

As Max Chong and Christopher Fraina were on their way they saw the child’s mother an sister sobbing on a street corner, at which point they said they said the 3-year-old boy was missing.

When a Sleepy Hollow police officer also pulled up and mentioned a missing child report, the group realized they were all looking for the same child. 

The police officers and railroad employees then took the family to Tarrytown Station, where the train was waiting with the boy. As the mother entered the train and saw her son, she broke into tears and embraced him. Moments later, his sister came on and also gave him a hug.

It was then that the mother explained to the railway workers and police that her son was autistic and unable to speak. She said they boy had been playing in a nearby park, likely Barnhart Park, which is just next to the railway line.

Five workers involved in the rescue were awarded commendations by the MTA Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi (in pink) on Monday. Higgins is pictured in the blue shirt and Loughran in black 

Five workers involved in the rescue were awarded commendations by the MTA Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi on Monday.

‘These fine team members embodied the qualities we want our employees to exhibit while on duty, alert, responsive, knowledgeable and helpful,’ she said.

‘With the bravery and calm comportment of superheroes, they averted a horrific outcome and saw to it that this little boy was not going to become a statistic. We salute their efforts and compassion, and heartily thank them for their dedication to the people we serve.’

Kennedy said it was his fatherly instinct kicked in when he saw the boy.

‘Heading south towards Tarrytown when I noticed something on the tracks, and when I realized it was a child I immediately called in an emergency,’ said Kennedy. 

‘Everybody’s quick thinking and the perfect timing allowed us to get this child off the tracks and back to his family.’

‘It’s a great feeling knowing that we were able to help reunite this family,’ said Fraina, who found the boy’s parents in tears.

‘In those minutes that must have felt like hours to them, I’m so glad we were in the right place at the right time.’

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