TWU Local 100 Power Distribution Maintainer Wilbert Cummings suffered serious burns to his right hand, face and legs in a third rail explosion early this morning (Oct. 30, 2014) at a Fasttrack job site at Union Square. Two other Local 100 members and a Transit Supervisor suffered less serious flash burns.
Local 100 President John Samuelsen, MOW Vice President Tony Utano, Track Division Chair Paul Navarro and Local 100 Staff Representative Jay Carrasco visited Brother Cummings at the NYU-Cornell Medical Center Burn Unit on E. 68th Street. Samuelsen assured Cummings and his partner, Shivone, that the union would be with them every step of the way during the recovery period. Brother Cummings appeared in good spirits. He said that the initial “considerable pain” from the accident had eased with treatment and medication. After the visit, President Samuelsen was interviewed by NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez outside the hospital.
Samuelsen said that transit workers “are the unsung heroes of this city.” “We take precautions, we take many safety precautions,” Samuelsen said, “but ultimately, at the end of the day, industrial accidents will occur when you’re dealing with this environment of iron and steel, and adjacent train traffic. The third rail is incredibly dangerous when it’s live. We work around it every night and, in all honesty, it’s miraculous that there are the low amount of accidents on the railroad tracks that there are, considering the environment that we work in,” he concluded.
NYCT Police provided Shivone with a car to the couple’s home in Brooklyn. “I want to make him some soup and bring it back this afternoon. This is very nerve wracking, but I feel a little better now than when I first got the call that Wilbert had been hurt,” she said.