The Teenager Who Was Subway Driver For A Day

“I’m going off the rails on a crazy train.” —Ozzy Osbourne, Crazy Train

In A Nutshell

In 1993, a 16-year-old boy stole a New York subway train—just because he loved trains and wanted to drive one. He had prepared for months, and on the day of the greatest adventure a teenager can have, he completed his route without incident.

The Whole Bushel

Keron Thomas had always been fascinated with trains. His friends had nicknamed him “A Train” as a child, which perhaps is the reason he chose the actual A train to take out cruising one day.

Well, perhaps that’s not entirely accurate. The boy had a lifelong love of trains and had spent months reading books and manuals about their operation in preparation for his big day. He managed to find a blue motorman shirt like the ones the transit employees wore, and befriended one of them—Regoberto Savio—while hanging out around the platforms. Unaware he was talking to a kid who was decidedly not a transit worker, Sabio gave up a surprising amount of information to the boy, including his employee number. One day, Thomas called up the Transit Authority and said he was Sabio, asking for any available overtime shifts; they called him back, and the fun began.

He showed up with everything—brake handle, key, safety vest—required by regulations, and for the next three hours, Keron shuttled 2,000 passengers around the city. It went off without a hitch. This was no joyride—he dutifully obeyed all the rules, made all the stops, and simply operated his train such that nobody knew anything was wrong. He would later tell the press, “I was just confident, like I knew what I was doing . . . I was saying, ‘This is my big day. I can’t mess this up.’ ”

And he didn’t. Only after he had successfully reached the end of the line and was on his way back to Manhattan did he make a mistake, taking a corner too fast and triggering the emergency brake. An inspector arrived to help, and the ride came to an end. Thomas served three years’ probation for reckless endangerment, and always insisted that he didn’t do it for notoriety, bragging rights or any other reason—he simply wanted to drive a train. Keron Thomas passed away in July 2013 of a heart attack. He was 37 years old.

Show Me The Proof

An obsession apparently blended into reality: Teen charged in subway spree
Twenty years later, man reflects on posing as train operator to take A train for wild joyride
1993 train thief Keron Thomas dies of heart attack at 37 (VIDEO)