31 years ago on August 28th, 1991
A drunken subway operator derails a '4' Train at Union Square just after midnight, killing five people and injuring 121
It became one of the deadliest crashes in the subway's history.
The train needed to make a switch from the express tracks to the local before it entered Union Square station, but Robert E. Ray entered the switch going nearly 50mph, derailing the train and slamming it into steel support beams and the tunnel wall. Despite being close to a station platform, the crumpled train and low clearance in the tunnel made it difficult to extract injured passengers, and the total rescue took three hours.
Ray was sentenced for five counts of second-degree manslaughter and assault after the investigation showed he was intoxicated and had fallen asleep, causing the crash. He was released from prison in 2002.