In New York the dangerous game of the “surfers” of the subway

(AFP) – The trend may seduce you on social media, but it’s dangerous, even deadly: in New York, the authorities are trying to curb the “subway surfing” trend, which consists of putting yourself on the scene by climbing onto the roof of a functioning subway .

Isa Islam is one of those who will regret for the rest of his life that he went to seek his “adrenaline rush” at the age of 17, as he tells AFP. That evening in November 2013, with two cousins, he had climbed onto the roof of a car in a subway station on the F line in Brooklyn.

On his first – and last – attempt, his head struck a metal beam, blood spurted out, and the wounds left him partially blind. “He was extremely stupid,” he says today. “If anyone needs a time machine, it’s me,” he adds.

Isa, who had spent six weeks in hospital, and underwent “many” operations, survived, but some are less fortunate. In February, a 15-year-old boy died after falling from the roof of a moving subway. Another teenager, from the Bronx, died in December.

After these incidents, NYPD recalled that the subway “wasn’t a playground” and that getting into a moving car is illegal. Also on the New York photogenic network, the largest in the United States (more than 400 stations), where the airways offer spectacular views of the city.

– “Russian roulette” –

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which operates the public transportation network, called for social media to be held accountable by pointing to TikTok, Instagram or Snapchat.

According to the MTA, the release of video to networks this past spring and summer boosted the challenge’s popularity.

It identified 928 reports of people traveling outside the car, more than four times as many as in 2021, and nearly double as many as in 2019 (490), the last year before the Covid pandemic.

“If they posted videos of people playing Russian roulette with live bullets, they’d realize the consequences. It’s the same for those kids who are emboldened by these glorifying videos,” MTA CEO Janno Lieber recently criticized.

A TikTok spokesperson told AFP that the network “doesn’t display videos of known dangerous behavior in search results,” while also ensuring it directs searches to guidelines that state this type of content is unauthorized.

Snapchat responds that it will “immediately delete” “surfing the subway” videos if it becomes aware of them. One of these spokespersons also explains that contacts have been made with the MTA “to discuss the measures we can take to prevent the dissemination of this content”.

The trend is also reminiscent of the video game “Subway surfers”, popular on mobile applications, where the hero, a graffiti artist, jumps from one train to another and runs on the tracks to escape a policeman.

But in real life, “it’s not a video game”, warns Isa Islam, who today is launching her prevention message within an association, “Breaking the Cycle”.

“110%, don’t do it,” she pleads.

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