Image source: New York Post
The photographer who shot the image of a trapped man moments before a New York subway train struck him said he was too far away to reach the victim and he can't let the "armchair critics" bother him.
New York Post freelancer R. Umar Abbasi wrote in a column published Wednesday that he was on assignment for the newspaper waiting for a train when he "suddenly heard people gasping." There was an train incoming and "out of the periphery of my eye, I saw a body flying through the air and onto the track."
Abbasi said he started running toward the man and the train, his camera raised, "shooting and flashing, hoping the train driver would see something and be able to stop."
He said he didn't know what he was shooting, and estimated that just 22 seconds elapsed between he first heard the shouting and when the man was struck.
"The victim was so far away from me, I was already too far away to reach him when I started running," Abbasi wrote. "The train hit the man before I could get to him, and nobody closer tried to pull him out."
He said that when it was finished, he didn't look at the photos, and said he didn't even know he'd captured everything in such detail until detectives came to see them at the New York Post office.
"When I finally looked at them late that night, my heart started racing. It was terrible, seeing it happen all over again," he said.
The New York Post and Abbasi have been the target of outrage and heavy criticism -- the Post for its decision to run the image, and Abbasi for taking photos rather than trying to help the man.
Abbasi wrote he was "surprised" at the anger from "armchair critics" who weren't there.
"People think I had time to set the camera and take photos, and that isn’t the case," he said. "I just ran toward that train. The sad part is, there were people who were close to the victim, who watched and didn’t do anything. You can see it in the pictures."
"The truth is I could not reach that man; if I could have, I would have," he said. "But the train was moving faster than I could get there."