A New York woman who was pushed onto the subway tracks by a mentally ill person said that she cannot remember what happened, and thought she had fainted.
Liliana Sagbaicela, 40, was lucky to survive the random attack on Thursday morning at Union Station in Manhattan.
Patrick Lynch, the president of the largest police union, accused politicians of ‘wishing the problem away’ and not doing enough to deal with mentally-ill people and troublemakers.
‘We recommend that all New Yorkers keep both eyes wide open while in our transit system,’ he said.
Sagbaicela, a mother of two, miraculously escaped without any broken bones following Thursday’s attack, but needed stitches in her head.
In surveillance footage from the station a homeless man, Aditya Vemulapati, 24, can be seen pacing up and down the platform, singling out Sagbaicela and then violently pushing her onto the tracks with both hands as the train pulled into the station.
Liliana Sagbaciela, with husband Rene Lleanos, said that she feels lucky to be alive
An emergency service worker is pictured on Thursday rescuing her from the tracks
Lynch, the head of the biggest police union, is warning subway users to be on their guard
Sagbaicela falls beneath the train, to the horror of others on the platform, and manages to land in the small space between its rolling wheels.
‘I’ll be honest, I still can’t believe it,’ she told the New York Daily News on Friday.
‘For me everything was so fast, so strong that I lost all senses. So I can’t remember much of what happened.’
She said she only realized what had taken place when she came round at Bellevue Hospital, where she was treated for a head injury.
‘In a way it’s better that I can’t remember because I’ll be traumatized,’ she told the paper.
‘I have a blurry image, but I don’t know if it’s true, that I opened my eyes and I saw that the train was coming. But I don’t know if that happened, if I really could see it.
‘I never felt the fall or anything,’ she said. ‘I never saw him. He was always behind me.’
Sagbaciela is pictured standing beside the pillar, moments before she was pushed
Another passenger turns away in horror as the train appears to run over her
Her attacker was charged with attempted murder and reckless endangerment, and was ordered held without bail at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday. His next court date is December 4.
Sagbaicela, a housekeeper who lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, said she thought she had fainted and fallen onto the tracks.
The staff at Bellevue told her what happened.
‘I said, ‘No, I fell. I fainted,’ she recalled.
She said a policeman told her: ‘No, you didn’t faint. We have all the evidence.’
Her attack was seized upon by Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, who accused the city officials of stopping police from doing their jobs and arresting dangerous people.
Sagbaicela’s attack was the second of its kind in as many days, and the fourth since October 19.
Lynch, president of the PBA, has urged politicians to allow police to do their jobs
‘The politicians have made it abundantly clear that they don’t want cops enforcing transit system rules, connecting the homeless with services, engaging with seriously mentally ill people or doing any of the things necessary to prevent these terrifying random attacks,’ he told the New York Post.
‘That is their choice to make, but who is replacing us in those roles? Right now, nobody.’
Lynch added: ‘While our elected leaders are closing their eyes and wishing the problem away, we recommend that all New Yorkers keep both eyes wide open while in our transit system.’
Sarah Feinberg, president of NYC Transit, urged Bill de Blasio, the mayor, to take action.
‘We have a crisis in this city and it absolutely has to be addressed,’ she said.
‘It’s got to be addressed, and I’m desperate for this mayor or the next mayor to take it on because we’ve got a long way to go.’
Subway ridership this year has fallen 70 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic, but five murders were committed in the system through September – up from two during the same period last year.
Sagbaicela with her husband Rene and their two daughters
A spokeswoman for de Blasio rejected Lynch’s remarks.
‘There are people who work hard to keep the subways safe and then there is Pat Lynch, who actively roots for a more chaotic, violent city,’ said Avery Cohen, his spokesman.
‘He cannot be taken seriously on public safety and his latest words are insults to the people he supposedly represents.’
Cohen said the de Blasio administration was working hard to improve the situation.
‘From outreach workers, to mobile mental health treatment teams, city workers are in our communities and subways doing this critical work every day,’ she said.
Sagbaicela said that her brush with death had made her all the more grateful for life.
‘With everything that happened I feel more at peace because I’m alive,’ she said.
‘I think the pain will go away. I’m with my family, thank God.’
Sagbaicela’s husband, Rene Lleanos, 45, agreed.
‘I thought about the worst in life, that she was with God,’ he said.
‘My wife was born again. It’s a miracle from God that she is here alive to tell the world that even though sometimes we are negative people, there is someone that helps us. It’s God.
‘Because it was only with a miracle from God that she got out of there alive, walking, talking.’