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Teen’s death on Metro-North tracks does not spawn change one year later

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THE BRONX (PIX11) -- Matthew Wallace was supposed to be in college this fall, playing lacrosse, and pursuing studies to possibly be an FBI agent one day.

Instead, his friends came home from college this week to attend a memorial service on the one year anniversary of Wallace’s death at 17.

“It was a tough time during prom season,” Matthew’s mother, Jeni Wallace, said through tears Monday night. “And when everyone was buying all their college stuff to go away, we just weren’t doing that.”

The Wallace family—along with Matthew’s former teachers, classmates, and friends—gathered at St. Barnabas Church in the Bronx Monday night to remember an inspiring student-athlete who made everyone smile and motivated his football team at Mount St. Michael Academy.

But they are troubled that more change has not come from his death.

Matthew Wallace was hit by a northbound Metro-North train on September 29, 2013 at the Wakefield station in the Bronx, which was just several blocks from his Yonkers home.

His parents heard the ambulance sirens respond, not knowing their son was fatally injured on the tracks.

The teen’s tragic death followed a series of missteps that involved underage drinking among a group of high school friends, Matt’s confusion in Grand Central Station—when he took the wrong Metro North line home—and a cab driver who left the incapacitated teen on the top steps of the Wakefield train station.

“Matthew was 17, he was in the world doing 17 year old things,” his mother said at the memorial service. “No child should die in the process of being a teenager.”

The last five minutes of Matthew Wallace’s life are still a mystery, because there were no surveillance cameras at the Wakefield train station that show how he got down to the tracks before he was hit by the train that left Grand Central at 1:15 am on September 29th last year.

“The fact there are no cameras,” said Yonkers City Council President, Liam McLaughlin, “just seems not to make any sense. We’re pushing the MTA to install cameras at each one of their locations.”

When PIX11 Investigates reached the MTA on Tuesday, a spokesperson told us, “This station was extremely low ridership. We deploy them based on ridership. We have them at the busiest stations.”

The Yonkers City Council President is pushing for other changes, a year after Wallace’s death.

“We have two pieces of legislation, specifically geared toward Matt Wallace’s death,” said Mc Laughlin.

One “would require any cab driver to take an incapacitated person to a police station or a hospital,” McLaughlin told PIX11 Investigates. “They couldn’t just dump them on a sidewalk.”

McLaughlin added, “We also seek to have video cameras installed in any place that sells alcohol, to make sure they’re not selling it to minors.”

Matthew’s father, Lynwood Wallace, took heart in the overwhelming attendance at his son’s service.

“This community has been outstanding, since day one,” he said.

He took comfort in the memory of Matthew: “charismatic, great sense of humor, one of those kids you never forget. He had that magnetic personality that just resonated with everyone.”

The family has a scholarship fund in Matthew Wallace’s name—and every dollar goes to funding the education of a deserving student.

3 comments

  • Christina Martinez

    I pray someone out there has the fight in them and common decency to help get Justice for Matthew. I pray to find my faith in humanity and our justice system once again Matt is gone forever but forever in our hearts. Will someone out there save the next young man/woman before it’s too late?

  • J Begley

    With all the Homeland Security upgrades it seems like the MTA has forgotton about Home Town security. These trains are the school busses for our children in NYC and there are no cameras. I can’t believe that is so . The longer the silence the more this smells like a cover up. Who ended this promising young mans life we would all like to know?

  • Jeni

    Mary , Thank you so much for making people aware of how wonderful my son’s light was/is and keeping them aware that we are still pushing for answers. No family should have to experience this kind of heart break.

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