(PIX11) –Twenty years ago, as a 16-year-old boy, Keron Thomas made headlines when he commandeered an A train heading to Queens and took passengers on a 85-stop joyride, nobody the wiser that a kid was driving the train.
Thomas, who went on to own a truck company, died Monday after battling heart disease, the New York Daily News reported. He was 37.
In 1993, he spent months researching the subway system, learning the tricks of the trade. He read books and manuals tirelessly — his father fondly recalled his nickname “the human MapQuest.”
As he prepared for his big ride, Thomas dressed in a blue New York City Transit uniform and befriended subway workers, unaware they were in the company of a teen train enthusiast.
In May 8, 1993, he posed as a worker on the big day. He was assigned to the A train. He boarded at the 207th st station and made every one of the 85 stops to Queens successfully — transporting an estimated 2,000 people.
The three-hour joyride ended when the emergency brakes were accidentally triggered as he almost completed the round trip to Manhattan — and he didn’t know what to do. When a transit worker showed up at the scene, Thomas was taken away for a drug and alcohol test, the New York Times reported at the time.
New Yorkers were largely “charmed” by the outlaw conductor who only wanted to be a train motorman.
In an 1993 interview with PIX11 reporter Stephanie Shelton, commuters said what should happen to Thomas. Responses ranged from ” I woulda hired him on the spot!” and “I’d give him a chance to do what he wanted to do” to “I would’ve thrown his ass in jail!”
His shocked mother told PIX11 that “ever since he came to Bed-Stuy from Trinidad three years ago, he has lived, breathed, and dreamed subway trains.”
“He’d pretend for hours … never in my wildest dreams would I think he’d do something like that,” his mother said.
In court, Thomas immediately apologized to the judge, and received 3 years probation. Less than a year later, he was arrested for stabbing a 17-year old in a dice game. He pleaded not guilty.
His loved ones celebrated his joyful life.
“He lived a short life, but it was fulfilling,” his sister told The News.
Web produced by Allison Yang