Railroad employees who saved tot from Metro-North tracks honored at Yankee Stadium

MTA Heroes Honored by New York Yankees
MTA Metro-North employees are greeted by center fielder Harrison Bader at Yankee Stadium before their game against the Cleveland Guardians on Monday, May 1, 2023. The employees are credited with rescuing a child who was spotted on the train tracks near Tarrytown on April 6.
Photo Marc A. Hermann

The New York Yankees honored six Metro-North Railroad employees who saved a toddler while on duty last month before the team’s Monday game against the Cleveland Guardians. 

The Bronx Bombers recognized the six during a pre-game batting practice and ceremony before the first pitch of Monday night’s match up. 

“It has been so great to see the reception of these heroic employees,” Catherine Rinaldi, Metro-North Railroad president and LIRR interim president, said in a statement. “We cannot thank the New York Yankees enough for providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience to the Metro-North family.” 

On the afternoon of April 6, Metro-North employees aboard a Hudson Line train just north of Tarrytown in Westchester County spotted a young child on the northbound tracks. Video surveillance released by the MTA on April 24 chronicles the communication between employees who sprung into action. 

Locomotive Engineer William Kennedy, who was operating a southbound train, sent out emergency radio communication to nearby train crews after he saw the child on the other side of the tracks. A northbound train headed by Locomotive Engineer Shawn Loughran proceeded at a slow rate of speed and then stopped when he and an engineer trainee could see the child — who had walked across the northbound tracks and was approaching the electrified third rail — in the distance. Assistant Conductor Marcus Higgins jumped out of the stopped train and ran toward the three year old boy. 

According to the video surveillance, employees in the halted northbound train exclaimed in fear while they watched the child approach and climb onto the third rail while Higgins was still running. 

“ … No, no, no, don’t do that, don’t do that,” one of the employees said from inside the train.

The other engineer sent out an emergency signal to have the third rail turned off. 

“Metro-North 737 … I need that rail killed immediately. Over,” he signaled. “This toddler’s right on the third rail.” 

Metro-North Assistant Conductor Marcus Higgins runs to rescue a 3-year-old child who was approaching the electric third rail on the Hudson Line just north of Tarrytown, New York on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
Metro-North Assistant Conductor Marcus Higgins runs to rescue a 3-year-old child who was approaching the electric third rail on the Hudson Line just north of Tarrytown, New York on Thursday, April 6, 2023. Photo courtesy MTA

Just a few seconds after the emergency signal, Higgins reached the child and scooped him up in his arms off the rail. He ushered the toddler to the side of the tracks, and employees helped the pair climb aboard.

Apart from the two trains, one southbound and one northbound, there were no other Metro-North vehicles on those tracks at the time of the incident, a spokesperson from the MTA told the Bronx Times on Tuesday.

The spokesperson also said the employees followed MTA protocol to conduct the rescue.

“Although this was a unique situation, crew members followed protocols provided during training for emergency situations,” the spokesperson said.

The child was reunited with his mother — who embraced him through tears — and sister when the train crew returned to the Tarrytown station. Sleepy Hollow police had been assisting the mother with a missing child report at the time of the rescue. According to the MTA, the toddler’s mother said her son has autism. 

“In the heat of the moment when you see a child in this situation, your first instinct is to make sure they’re safe,” Higgins said in a statement. “I’m glad our crew was there and able to help.”

The honorees at Yankee Stadium on Monday were Kennedy, Higgins, Loughran and Rinaldi, as well as Metro-North Signal Maintainer Christopher Fraina and MTA Police Officer Jose Reyes.

Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes