Subway surfing: Death of Brooklyn teen struck on F line renews concerns over lethal trend

Subway surfing atop moving train on Brooklyn's Williamsburg Bridge
A subway surfer atop a train crossing the Williamsburg Bridge.
File photo/Wes Parnell

Another subway surfing death — this one involving a teenager killed on the F line in Brooklyn Friday — has renewed concerns over the deadly trend and calls for more to be done to prevent such needless tragedy.

Police said a teenage boy died after being struck by a Coney Island-bound F train at the Avenue N station in Mapleton at about 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 12.

Based on a preliminary investigation, police believe the youngster was riding on the outside of one of the cars when he apparently slipped and fell, leading to his death.

Responding EMS units pronounced the teenager, reported to be 14 years of age, dead at the scene. As of Saturday morning, police had not yet released his identity, pending family notification.

Subway surfing — the dangerous game of people riding outside subway cars traveling at high speeds — re-emerged in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21. Despite the incredible risk of death or severe injury, its popularity has increased through videos posted by subway surfers on social media.

Last year, both Mayor Eric Adams and MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber made public appeals to social media giants like Tiktok, Instagram and X (Twitter) to crack down on subway surfers and delete videos of them riding illegally throughout the transit system.

In September 2023, the city and MTA also launched “Subway Surfing Kills — Ride Inside, Stay Alive,” a public service announcement campaign developed by teenagers as a means to get their peers to listen about the dangerous trend.

Richard Davey, MTA New York City Transit president, was blunt about subway surfing in a published statement Friday while offering condolences to the family of the teen killed in Friday’s incident.

“Another innocent life has been lost, and it should not happen,” Davey said. “I implore parents to talk with their children and teachers to speak with their students – riding on top of subway trains is reckless, dumb, and the consequences can be lethal.”

MTA New York City Transit President Richard Davey speaks about subway surfing dangers
MTA Chair & CEO Janno Lieber, Mayor Eric Adams, NYCT President Richard Davey, and Department of Education Chancellor David Banks unveil the “Subway Surfing Kills – Ride Inside, Stay Alive” PSA at 33 St-Rawson St on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023.Marc A. Hermann / MTA

NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper offered similar sentiments in a statement posted to X (Twitter) on Friday night.

“No amount of thrill-seeking excitement or social media likes is worth the devastation to your family,” Kemper said. “Talk to your kids, then talk to them again, because the dangers of train surfing merits repeating.”

Prior to Friday’s incident, the most recent subway surfing fatality occurred on Dec. 4, 2023, according to PIX-11.