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Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2008

Man really wants to be transit worker

June 15, 2008

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— A man so fascinated with the city's public transit system that he's turned his life into a train wreck is in trouble again.

Darius McCollum, who became a New York sensation when he commandeered a subway at age 15, was arrested Saturday after police found him in a secure area of Manhattan's Columbus Circle station wearing clothing that resembled a transit worker's uniform.

The arrest marked the 23rd time the 43-year-old was arrested on charges of pretending to be a transit worker.

Over the years, he has donned MTA uniforms and cheerfully collected fares, cleared trash from tracks, put out underground fires.

But he's also driven MTA buses and trains, including a time in 1981 when he made headlines as a teenager by taking the controls of a subway full of passengers and piloting it to the World Trade Center.

Hardly just a youthful prank, it was the first of many forbidden rides. By the mid-1990s, frustrated Transit Authority officials posted thousands of wanted posters in trains and stations so riders could report McCollum sightings. But most riders who ran into him found him simply friendly and helpful.

On Saturday, officers of the NYPD's Transit Queens Task Force spotted McCollum as he entered a secure area. He was wearing a hardhat and the typical blue T-shirt and pants of track workers, and carried a flashlight and gloves with a Transit Authority logo.

Police said he also had "written material containing knowledge of the transit system." McCollum was charged with criminal impersonation, criminal trespassing and criminal possession of burglar tools.

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