Kensington lawmakers City Council Member Brad Lander and Assembly Member Robert Carroll last week joined with Transit Workers Union Local 100 members and their families with a candlelight memorial in Kensington honoring the memory of Bushwick resident and track worker Louis Gray, who was struck and killed in the tunnel just north of the F and G train Church Avenue Station.
Gray, 53, was working as a flagger — tasked with setting up lights to warn approaching trains of track work ahead — when he and his partner Jeffrey Fleming were struck by a G train. The train pinned the pair against a catwalk as it rounded a curve about 12:05 a.m. Nov. 2, officials told reporters.
“We both should have been living. It was a safety matter. Everyone just wants to finish their shift and go home to their family,” said Fleming, a Canarsie resident with 17 years on the job, who fractured all his ribs and sustained other injuries in the incident.
Fleming, who was at the memorial, said the accident happened very fast. He just saw the train coming and then it hit him and Gray, who joined the MTA in 2001. .
TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, who also attended the memorial, noted that flagging is one of the most dangerous jobs in tunnel work as flaggers. Since the accident, the (NTSB) National Transportation Safety Board has mandated that all trains stop while flaggers are out while the are investigating the incident, he said.
The incident happened as the union has been in contract negotiations with the MTA – a state agency – as their contract officially ended yesterday.
Samuelsen said the two sides are making progress, but the MTA is offering 2 percent raises, and the union will not accept this. Other issues concern health and other benefits, but safety measures will not be part of the bargaining at this time.
There could be something written into the contact about safety measures but there will likely happen after the NTSB comes back with their findings from this accident, Samuelsen said.
Gray is the 13th transit worker to die on the job since 2001, and Samelsen noted that bus drivers also remain in danger from assault.