It’s summertime in New York City, which means the subway is at its most insufferable. Missing a train means waiting even longer in the suffocating heat of the rat-infested underground ovens that are New York subway stations. The trains are packed and sweaty, and the particularly unlucky commuter might get stuck in a car with broken air conditioning.
But one Brooklyn man has allegedly made a gutsy, incredibly dangerous habit to avoid all that, opting to ride on the outside of the train, “where fresh breezes and mole people beckon from the velvety darkness,” as Gothamist put it.
It was about 8:30 a.m. Friday when the daring soul missed the northbound C train at the Clinton-Washington Avenues stop in Brooklyn.
After the doors closed, the man, identified by the New York Police Department as 22-year-old Isaiah Thompson, grabbed onto the train from the outside. And off he went, surfing through the subway tunnel while some commuters — including one headphone-clad man looking at his phone — rode unsuspecting inside, according to a video captured by another subway rider, Matthew Beary.
“It was just sort of like spur-of-the-moment, take a camera out not knowing what was happening, but realizing as I’m taking this video that this guy is clearly hanging on,” Beary told Pix 11.
The video, which has now been viewed on Instagram more than 39,000 times, shows the man holding on in a calm, nonchalant manner, even letting down one of his arms. One woman with her back to the surfer is seen gazing out the window at him, her face stunned.
“It gave me the feeling that he had done this before,” Beary told CBS New York. “As he rode down he pressed himself against the door tightly so that way he wouldn’t get hit by anything.”
“My thought was I hope he’s going to be okay,” Beary added. “The woman next to me had her hand over her mouth in shock.”
Thompson survived his voyage, jumping off at the Lafayette Avenue stop, according to Beary. “Classic NYC craziness,” Beary wrote on his Instagram post.
But on Tuesday, days after Beary posted his video on Instagram, Thompson was arrested at his residence in Brooklyn, the NYPD told The Washington Post. He was charged with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.
And according to NYPD officials who spoke to New York news outlets, this was not the first time Thompson has been caught riding on the outside of a train.
Police told Gothamist that he was previously arrested in March and November of 2017 on similar charges. Authorities told the New York Daily News he was arrested four times in 2017, mostly on the C train line in Brooklyn.
New York City’s transit chief, Andy Byford, told Gothamist that riding on the outside of a subway car is “incredibly dangerous, disruptive, and foolish — it can cause major delays and easily result in death.”
Indeed, several people have died trying such a stunt. In January, a 29-year-old man fell to his death between two subway cars while riding on the roof of a New York City train. In 2017, A 13-year-old boy was seriously injured after crashing into a sign at the end of a station platform while subway surfing. In 2016, a Brooklyn urban photographer reportedly died after trying to ride on top of a Coney Island-bound F train.
“This young man is lucky he ended up in police custody and not in a hospital or worse,” Byford told Gothamist.
Thompson could not be located for comment.