Tabloid's photo of man about to be hit by train causes outcry

Photographer defends himself against accusations that he failed to help man pushed on to the tracks of New York subway.

NEW YORK // A New York Post front page photo of a man about to be hit by an oncoming subway train has provoked fury from readers wondering why nobody, including the photographer, did not pull the victim to safety - and why the tabloid published the image.

Police say the victim, Ki-Suck Han, 58, of Queens, died shortly after being pushed on to the tracks by a stranger on Monday.

The New York Police Department was questioning a suspect, whose name was not released. A police spokesman, Paul Browne, said detectives were questioning a man who resembled the assailant after locating him near 50th Street and Seventh Avenue.

Mr Browne later said the man, 30, had "implicated himself in the incident" to detectives.

Han was thrown on to the tracks during a fight with a deranged man in the subway station at 49th Street near Times Square. He then staggered to his feet and tried but failed to get out the way of a train, which killed him in full view of a crowd of passengers.

One of those bystanders was a freelance photographer for the Post who managed to take a series of photos, including the one occupying the whole front page of the paper's Tuesday edition under the headline: "Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die."

The photographer, R Umar Abbasi, told NBC's Today show that he was not trying to take a photo of the man, but was trying to alert the driver to what was going on. He said he was shocked that people nearer to the victim did not try to help the man in the 22 seconds before the train struck.

In a video report on the story, the Post appeared to suggest that the photo and two others in a double spread inside the newspaper were unintentional byproducts of the photographer's rescue attempt.

"Not being strong enough to physically lift the victim himself the photographer used the only resources available to him and began rapidly flashing his camera to signal the train conductor to stop," the report said.

"If this thing happened again with the same circumstances, whether I had a camera or not, and I was running towards it, there is no way I could have rescued Mr Han," Mr Abassi said.

"What really surprises me is the people who were maybe 100 feet or 150 feet away from Mr Han, they did not reach out to help him,' he said. "I can't let the armchair critics bother me. They were not there. They have no idea how very quickly it happened".

But readers quickly slammed the Post's photographer and editors for what they saw as a callous attitude to the tragedy.

"Wow! enough time to take a few pictures. Why didn't the person help? How many pictures did they take? 3-4 pictures. And nobody tried to help. Not one person," wrote Joseph Monte on the Post's website.

Nicole Stagg, another reader, wrote: "There aren't many real men in NYC. Everyone is a sheep. This was Baaaaaaaad."

The Atlantic Wire website joined the outcry.

"There's one big question about today's intense cover of the New York Post. Why didn't anyone help him? If there's enough time to capture a dying man's last moments before getting hit by an oncoming train that's that worthy of a tabloid cover, couldn't the photographer have lent a hand," the Atlantic said.

But that did not convince critics on Twitter.

"Claims he was using camera's flash to catch conductor's attention," tweeted Ellen Comisar. "But result seems a tad too well composed."

"This is sickening," tweeted Brian Frederick. "Why on earth would the NY Post put this on their cover?"

"Whoever took the picture that's on the cover of the NY Post should be arrested for not helping the dude that got killed," wrote "vodka n lime".

Published: December 6, 2012 04:00 AM


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