NYC transit worker who in 2018 put 'his own life at risk' for passengers dies of COVID-19

Posted at 8:12 AM, Apr 30, 2020

NEW YORK — A subway conductor who risked his own life to evacuate a train in 2018 died of the coronavirus on Tuesday, officials said.

Benjamin Schaeffer was a conductor for more than two decades. His father, Alan Schaeffer, had put out a call for help for his son, Rapid Transit Operations Vice President Eric Loegel said.

"Alan Schaeffer informed me of the need for a plasma donation, so I set out to publicize his call for help," Loegel said. "The response was overwhelming, so much love — and so many donors."

It was too late for Benjamin Schaeffer by the time he received the treatment, Loegel said.

"It was a long shot, but still, he had a shot. Ben's family was so grateful for the outpouring of support for their son," Loegel said Wednesday. "Everybody was pulling for them. It broke my heart when I got that call from Mr. Schaeffer yesterday."

In 2018, Benjamin Schaeffer stepped up to evacuate a train, NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said.

"The passing of Conductor Schaeffer is a devastating loss for the entire NYCT family. During his career, he showed what it means to be a public servant – most notably putting his own life at risk to ensure the safety of the passengers in his care while evacuating a train car in 2018," Feinberg said. "He continued to serve his city bravely during this pandemic, representing the highest ideals of this agency."

Schaeffer was loved by his colleagues, Feinberg said.

He was also an officer with the Transport Workers Union, according to Local 100 President Tony Utano.

"It is especially heartbreaking when a man who has given so much to the union as an officer passes," Utano said. "Brother Schaeffer truly lived our founder Mike Quill's words, when he said, 'you must invest part of yourself' in the union. Ben made that investment in TWU Local 100 and this will always be remembered."

This story was originally published by Aliza Chasan on WPIX in New York.