By Peter Rudegeair
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The death of a man who was shoved in front of an oncoming New York City subway train spurred a police hunt on Friday for the woman seen pushing him, as the second such violent death this month left its imprint on the city's millions of subway riders.
The victim was shoved onto the tracks by a woman, described as heavy-set and Hispanic, who approached him from behind on the platform of an elevated station in the borough of Queens on Thursday evening, New York Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in a statement.
The victim was pinned under the first car of an 11-car train. Police said they had yet to identify him due to the extent of his injuries.
The woman fled the scene of the chilling incident. Police released a copy of surveillance video showing her running down a street.
Witnesses said the woman appeared to be in her 20s, had been pacing back and forth on the platform and was talking to herself before the train arrived, according to police. It was unclear whether she knew the victim.
It was the second time in the past month that a New York subway rider was pushed to his death in front of a train and came just ahead of the New Year's holiday in a city choked with visitors.
On December 3, Ki-Suck Han was killed after being shoved onto subway tracks in Manhattan as a train entered the 49th Street station near Times Square. A suspect, Naeem Davis, has been charged with second-degree murder.
In 2011, 146 people were struck by New York subway trains, 47 of them fatally, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Such incidents have prompted subway riders to take precautions while waiting for trains. Commuter Chloe Morris, traveling from New Jersey, said she prefers to sit on a bench rather than stand on a station platform.
"I don't come close to the edge until a train comes," Morris said as she waited in the Times Square station, away from the tracks. "There's too many crazy people in the world."
Installing safety doors along subway platforms that block access to the tracks, which are in use in several major cities around the world, would help, said New Yorker Tom Walker as he waited for a subway on Friday.
New York's subway system, which is more than 100 years old and is one of the world's busiest, does not have barriers between the platforms and the tracks.
"It's an antiquated system. Of course people are going to fall in," Walker said.
(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler)