Easter Eggs and a Subway Tragedy at Brownsville’s Betsy Head Park


Plastic eggs dotted Betsy Head Park’s dusty field. A marching band boomed and a dance team grooved. The afternoon was warm and the smoke from the grill dissolved into a clear blue sky. It was the day before Easter Sunday and scores of people gathered at the park for the neighborhood Easter egg hunt.

The Mo Better Jaguars, a youth football team based in Brownsville, had just finished a workout. Players leaned against a fence taking in the festivities. Coaches relaxed under a tree near the park’s entrance, striking up conversations with passing youngsters, asking if they were interested in joining the team.

Then a woman walked up to the coaches, her face panicked and her voice shaking. “Girl jumped in front of the train. Just now,” she said, pointing at the elevated tracks above the park. “You could see her leg. She was all cut up.”

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The coaches looked at each other, shocked. The woman continued: “This girl, young too, she was all crying and then when the train came she just jumped. Right in front of a mother with her three children.”

Chris Legree, Mo Better’s head coach, shook his head. “Wow,” he sighed.

“Look,” the woman said, pointing again to the tracks, “train’s not running.”

And there, over the next block, was the 3-train, unmoving. A firetruck pulled up beneath it. Police cars and an ambulance lined the curbs on both sides. A crowd gathered on all four corners of the Saratoga Avenue and Livonia Avenue intersection. There was a buzz of chatter, those in the know explaining what they saw and heard and those new to the scene listening in.

“I was sitting right there,” a young man in a gray hoodie said to a middle-aged woman in a green duster. “I woulda done something if I knew. He was standing right there. I didn’t know.”

“It’s a female,” she said. “It was probably the same one that was crying. There was a woman that was crying. There were a bunch of people that saw it and didn’t do nothing to console her.”

“You see people crying all the time, though.”

“I see someone crying, I always say something.”

They stared up at the tracks in silence for a few seconds.

“She was young,” the young man noted.

“They see her crying and say nothing,” the woman said, her voice rising in outrage. “Everybody into their damn iPad and this and that and the other and see somebody crying and they don’t say nothing.”

The pair and those around them watched a cherry-picker lift a fireman to the tracks. Behind the crowd, a stream of people, in bright dresses and button-downs, strolled out of Betsy Head.

A woman with two small boys approached the scene. The boys each held a balloon animal from the Easter egg hunt party. “Somebody jumped?” she exclaimed. “Oh my God.” The three of them stood there, beneath the tracks, for a few minutes, then walked away, toward the bus stop.