A woman was pushed onto subway tracks Thursday morning -- narrowly missing an incoming train's impact -- and the man who allegedly shoved her was taken into custody at the scene, police said.
Police and fire officials say a man pushed her onto the 4/5/6 line tracks at Union Square around 8:30 a.m. The woman, who had headphones in as she listened to Bible passages, fell in between two train tracks -- narrowly missing the train's impact. Witnesses say the woman was waiting for the 5 train when the man approached her looking like he was talking to himself. Apparently, the man timed the shove just as an incoming train was approaching and pushed the woman without saying a word.
"It's very disturbing. We see him waiting, calculating for the train to approach the station and at the opportune moment he pushed the victim onto the tracks," NYPD Chief of Transit Capt. Kathleen O'Reilly said in a Thursday morning press conference, adding that the shocking incident was captured on surveillance video.
"She fell fortunately for her between the roll bed and rails, and by the grace of God sustained only minor injuries," O'Reilly said.
After the shove, the man, later identified as Aditya Vemulapati, saw police approaching and laid down. The man, who police described as emotionally disturbed and in his mid 40's, is in custody and faces attempted murder charges, among others.
The NYPD says that Union Square Station sees a lot of foot traffic -- 22 million riders a year -- which is why police patrol were in the area and quickly made the arrest.
The woman, Liliana Llanos, was taken to a hospital. Police say she sustained minor injuries, mostly cuts to her head and body, but she is expected to survive. Her husband was grateful she was able to return to their Sunset Park apartment, saying she "got a new life today."
It marked the second subway push arrest made on Thursday. Another man was taken into custody after police said he pushed a UPS worker onto the tracks at the 42nd Street-Bryant Park Station Wednesday night. Police said Justin Pena attacked the victim after the man refused to give him money.
The incident led the president of the MTA to draw attention to the mental health problems in the city that carry over to subway platforms.
"It's gotta be addressed, and I'm desperate for this mayor or the next to take it on," MTA President Sarah Feinberg said. "This city has a mental health crisis, we have got folks in this city who desperately need mental health care."