What to Know
- Four MTA workers were honored Thursday for helping to reunite a severely autistic teen with his family last month
- The teen was riding a Metro-North train alone and wouldn't communicate; MTA police eventually managed to identify and locate his family
- He was brought back to his Astoria, Queens home; it's not clear how he got to Connecticut from there
Four MTA workers were recognized Thursday for helping to reunite a non-verbal autistic boy riding a Metro-North train alone with his family last month.
The teenage boy was riding a westbound train from Metro-North at around noon on Sunday, April 16, when a conductor and an assistant conductor asked for his ticket. The teen didn't seem to understand -- he avoided eye contact, wouldn't communicate and got up and moved to a different seat, the MTA says.
The conductor, Sean Tedesco, and assistant conductor, Charles Dolan, saw the teen was in need of help and contacted rail traffic control to have MTA police officers meet the train at the Stamford station.
Once at Stamford, MTA police officers Desire Bokor and Armando Hernandez boarded the train and gently coaxed the boy off and onto a platform bench, then to the MTA PD office downstairs, according to the MTA.
The officers noticed the teen was very protective of an object in his pocket, but he wouldn't reveal what it was, the MTA said. Bokor distracted the teen, and Hernandez grabbed the item, which turned out to be a key chain.
"We didn't want to cause the young man distress by holding onto his key chain, which seemed very precious to him," said Hernandez. "So I took out my key ring, gave it to him and asked, 'How about we trade keys?'"
The teen was happy to do so, and the officers examined his key chain, finding a specialized GPS locator with a dead battery. There was also a tag with a name and a Queens address, as well as a phone number. The officers called the number and reached the boy's mother.
The mother answered the call from inside an NYPD vehicle, patrolling the neighborhood in search of her son, 18-year-old Kahchi Ng. She told the officers her severely autistic son had slipped out of the family's home in Astoria undetected at about 8 a.m. that morning.
The MTA police officers drove Ng back to Queens to reunite him with his mother.
MTA police believe the teen boarded the westbound train at Westport, but it's still not clear how to got to Westport from Queens.
"We're just profoundly grateful that he's safe and that he wasn't hurt in any way," said Bokor.
The Metro-North conductors and the MTA police officers were honored at an MTA board meeting Thursday.
"On any given day, Metro-North conductors can interact with thousands of customers," said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. "The fact that [Tedesco and Dolan] took special notice of Kahchi and recognized the need to help him speaks volumes about our exceptional levels of professionalism and customer care at Metro-North. [Bokor and Hernandez] made it their mission to bring Kahchi safely home to his family."