18-year-old Liam Armstrong was out in Manhattan on his birthday Tuesday when a friend dared him to cross the tracks of the 2 train on the Upper West Side. As he attempted the feat, Armstrong was struck and killed.
The Long Island teen, according to police, was hit by the northbound 2 express train at the 79th Street Station at 6:30 p.m. Armstrong, a popular student and athlete at Smithtown High School East, had crossed one of four tracks when he was taken out.
Authorities say he was attempting to run from one side of the tracks to the other. He suffered a severed leg and died of severe head trauma.
“I can’t believe this happened,” said tearful friend Kerin Grisanti. “He has three little siblings and he loves them — he’s a great big brother.”
Armstrong and two friends were on their way from Central Park to Greenwich Village when they mistakenly boarded a northbound 1 train, headed towards the Bronx. They then got off at the 79th Street Station to change to a southbound train. Instead of walking through the station, they then began daring each other to dart across the tracks to catch the other train.
The station has four sets of rails, two for the local 1 train, which stops there, and two in the center where the express 2 and 3 trains move through the station, without stopping there.
All of the teens attempted to cross. One even made it to the other platform. The other was still on the northbound train when Armstrong was struck.
Police sources said a 2-liter bottle of Bacardi rum was found in Armstrong’s backpack and two fake IDs in his wallet. No word on whether or not the teen was intoxicated.
The senior was set to graduate this spring and his friends said he had considered following in his father’s footsteps into the police force.
"He was a very nice kid, always making everybody laugh," Ali Grimaldi, a senior at Smithtown HS West told the New York Post.
“It was his 18th birthday today, and I think they just wanted to have a little bit of fun,” she added.
Riders on the 2 train initially did not know why the train came to a screeching halt in the subway.
“As we were leaving the train, I actually saw a foot between two cars,” said 25-year-old Jake Moore of Harlem.
Reports from the NY Transit Authority's office of system safety showed the number of people hit by subway trains rose 15 percent in in 2011, when 147 people were hurt, up from 128 in 2010.