As a 2 Train pulled into the 110th Street-Central Park North Station this morning, the conductor radioed the motorman warning of smoke and fire coming from one of their cars. They called for help, but after the train stopped, they sprung into action. Seeing that the flames were devouring the second car, they directed the remaining passengers out of the searing heat toward the safety of the platform and station exits.
But the conflagration increased. And when first responders arrived a few minutes later at 3:15 AM, they were met with a thick plume of soot radiating from the tracks. Five firefighters were hurt. Twelve commuters were taken to the hospital. The second car of the train was stripped to its skeleton. The only thing left recognizable within its frame was the melted outline of a supermarket-style shopping cart.
Initially, investigators weren’t sure whether the fire was sparked before or after the train reached the station. However, the NYPD called it a crime and the MTA announced a reward in the amount of $50,000 for anyone with information leading to the arrest of the arsonist or group of careless incendiaries. Even worse than the damage, though, was the terrible human cost.
As firefighters tamed remnants of the blaze, they found him lying there dead on the tracks: the 2 Train motorman. After saving his passengers, he apparently tried saving himself by jumping from the first car and running down the tunnel. The debris in the air, though, was too heavy for his lungs to expunge; and Garrett Gable, a 36-year-old New Yorker born in the Flatlands, was suddenly gone. He’d spent the past six years working for the MTA.
Speaking later with the Daily News, one of Mr. Gable’s colleagues Linda Echevarria could only say
His spirit was beautiful. He was a fun-loving, kind-hearted guy that would give you the shirt off his back. He was an awesome man. I’m going to miss him terribly.
Photos courtesy of the New York Daily News. Retouched by Rick Stachura. March 27, 2020.
(1) 110th Street-Central Park North Station in Harlem.
(2) Second car of the train where the fire started.