A New Jersey woman who fell to her death from an escalator at the Oculus transit hub was apparently horsing around on the handrail, mimicking a superhero before she lost her balance, a source said Sunday.
Officials who saw video of the tragic accident said victim Jenny Santos, 29, fell 34 feet early Saturday after laying prone on the banister of the escalator, like she was pretending to be flying, the source said.
Seconds later, Santos lost her balance and plunged from the street level to the C1 level on the main concourse, where she hit her head on the marble floor, the source said.
Earlier, officials had said Santos fell around 5:30 a.m. while stretching to grab her twin sister’s falling hat while the two were riding the escalator en route to a train to take them back to their home in Kearny, N.J.
The source said the hat was still somehow involved but could not elaborate.
Photo sent by Alex Rud via Email, ID verified by nextdoor neighbor. Tom Tracy in shack verified ID with a source, confirmed via email
Jenny Santos, a phys ed, health and driver’s education instructor, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where she could not be saved.
Santos, a phys ed, health and driver’s education instructor, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, but she could not be saved.
A spokeswoman for the city’s chief medical examiner said Santos died from blunt-impact injuries to her head and torso.
As Santos’ heartbroken family dealt with the death of the woman described as an outgoing adventurer, attention began to shift to the design of escalators at the $4.4 billion facility.
Some passengers wondered whether the glass barriers running alongside the escalator should be higher.
“If I was taller, I might be a little more wary,” said Vanessa Chang, 32, who was carrying her teacup Yorkie in a hand-held container. “I was worried about the dog. If I was holding a kid, I’d be nervous.”
“They should definitely make it higher, but with a place to hold on with your arms,” said a transit supervisor at the Fulton St. subway station who declined to give her name.
The Daily News measured the guardrails at the Oculus and the Fulton St. station and found they are 3 feet, 4 inches tall. The 2-foot glass portion of the partition sits on a metal support that is a little less than a foot tall. The railing is another inch, and the rubber covering is about 4 inches.
Most Oculus visitors asked on Sunday said they were comfortable with the current escalator dimensions.
“It’s like people paying attention in the theater by the balcony,” said Charlie Carson, 62, a legal secretary from SoHo. “It was an accident. You could make a real good case that when there’s a drop like that the barrier should be higher. I can see how someone reaching for their hat could fall over.”
Neither the governor’s office nor the Port Authority responded to questions about escalator safety. Architect Santiago Calatrava could not be reached for comment.
The striking white transit hub, was constructed to replace the terminal destroyed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
The complex connects PATH trains with 11 subway lines and hosts a high-end, two-level shopping mall.