CTA's Heroic Day

CTA Darren Johnson, with Stations VP Derrick Echevarria and Rep Paul Flores, who responded to the scene
CTA Darren Johnson, with Stations VP Derrick Echevarria and Rep Paul Flores, who responded to the scene


August 18, MANHATTAN -- CTA Darren Johnson took out the trash – after chasing it down.

Johnson chased a subway groper up four flights of stairs and escalators at a very deep subway station in Manhattan and held the molester for the police. The man took off after Johnson confronted him for assaulting a 25-year-old woman while she waited with a young child for an elevator on the northbound platform of the 63rd St./Lexington Ave. station Wednesday morning.

“I didn’t want him to get away because maybe he would do it again to someone else,” Johnson said. “I have a 17-year-old daughter. When you hear about something like this you think that it could have been your daughter or mother or someone that you know.”

Police charged the suspect, Leonardo San Juan Godinez, 20, of Queens, with forcible touching and sex abuse, and led him from the 63rd St./Lexington Ave. station in handcuffs, authorities said. Johnson was in uniform on the platform when the visibly-upset woman pleaded for help. “That guy just fondled me,” she said. “He just groped me.” Johnson called out to Godinez to stop walking when Godinez bolted. Johnson pursued him up 106 steps before catching him near the turnstiles in front of the token booth. “He reached into his pocket like he was going to grab something and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to get stabbed here,’ “Johnson said. “I grabbed both his arms and held him.”

The station agent alerted the RCC and the police.  Johnson didn’t have much time to catch his breath. Minutes after the police and suspect left, Johnson was in the booth getting a NYC Transit form to file his report when someone ran to the booth and said there was fire up by the street entrance. Johnson grabbed the fire extinguisher and extinguished the blaze, crediting his training from the union and NYCT with knowing how to handle the situation calmly.

“This was the craziest day of my life,” he said. Dan Rivoli, transit reporter for the New York Daily News, predicted Johnson would be nominated for a Hometown Heroes in Transit Award, which honors exemplary bus and subway workers. “I don’t feel like a hero,” he humbly said. “I feel like anyone should try and help in a situation like this.”