News

Actions

Parents of teen killed by Metro-North train demand details on death

Posted at 11:13 PM, Jan 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-18 12:29:20-04

YONKERS (PIX11) – Jeni Wallace said she can still remember the sirens she heard around 2 a.m., in the early hours of September 29, 2013.

“We were awake, when we heard the ambulances by our house,” she said. “We heard the ambulances.  We didn’t know it was Matthew.”

The ambulances were heading to the Metro North Wakefield station, just over the Bronx border, several blocks away.

Matthew was her 17-year-old son, a popular student and athlete at Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx.  He was talking of being an FBI agent.

Jeni—a healthcare executive—and her husband, Lynwood—an advertising executive—had allowed their middle child out for the first time on his own that night.

“Usually, I drive my kids everywhere,” Jeni Wallace recalled through tears, “but he said ‘Mom, I’m going to be going to college in a few months.  Can I please go out with my friends by myself?’  And I let him go.”

The decision proved to be fateful, because MTA police later received information the group of friends was drinking, before heading into Manhattan on Metro North.  Wallace’s parents later heard Matthew had gotten sick and was trying to get home….to make curfew.  That’s when things went terribly wrong.

Matthew Wallace was spotted on surveillance footage in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal after midnight, in the early minutes of September 29th, 2013.  He was supposed to board a train on the Harlem line with his classmate from Mount Saint Michael, but Matthew was seen veering to the left, eventually getting on the New Haven train.

Sources tell PIX 11 a couple on the New Haven train tried to help Matthew Wallace, when it was clear he was in distress.  They took him off the train at Mount Vernon East and made contact with his classmate.  The man and woman summoned a cab and asked the driver to take Matthew Wallace to the Wakefield train station in the Bronx, which was close to Wallace’s home.  PIX 11 was told Wallace’s friend didn’t know his address—and neither did the couple.

The cab driver left 17-year -old Matthew at the top of the enclosed staircase and told him to wait.  The driver pulled away and later saw Wallace still sitting on the steps.  But there’s a five to eight minute window when no witness reports seeing Wallace, and when the northbound train from Grand Central pulled into the Wakefield station after 1:40 am—with Wallace’s friend on board—Matthew was on the tracks and fatally hit.

Wallace’s parents have been desperately trying to piece together the final minutes of his life, and they’re upset the Wakefield station has no surveillance cameras that can give them any clues.

“I’m certain if you go to other major stations, like Scarsdale, there are tons of cameras,” Lynwood Wallace told PIX 11, standing on the platform at the Wakefield station, “whereas down here, there are no cameras.”

Wallace’s parents had concerns he may have been robbed and chased onto the tracks.  They told PIX 11 his gold, St. George medal was missing. Wallace’s parents also said his wallet was missing.   “We’ve searched everywhere, and we can’t find his wallet,” said the teen’s father.  “All over the house; we’ve torn apart his room…his school locker.  It’s missing.”

PIX  11 learned the teen was found with $60 in his pocket and his iPhone.  When we asked MTA police for a statement, Chief Michael Coan told us, “ The circumstances surrounding the death of Matthew Wallace continue to be investigated.  However, at this time, it appears to be a tragic accident.”

PIX 11 learned police spoke to nine teens, male and female, who were out with Matthew Wallace that night.  Police also spoke to the couple on the New Haven train and the cab driver.

Wallace’s parents have been overwhelmed with love and support from the Mount Saint Michael community, along with old classmates from St. Barnabas, where Matthew attended grade school.

The principal at Mount Saint Michael—Brother Steve Schlitte—said of Matthew’s death, “It was devastating.  He was a very popular kid.  Always happy, always positive, always upbeat.”

Matthew Wallace had been honored as a Boy Scout at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and was a champion equestrian, as a child.

One of Matthew’s teammates from the lacrosse and football teams, Joseph Alba, said, “I woke up that morning, and I saw it all over Facebook.  He was one of my best friends.”

Matthew’s football team started winning games after his death, and they always carried his #22 jersey to the field for the coin toss.

“He was the heart of the team,” friend Nolan Burgos said. “If we needed someone to get us excited, we would go to him.”

A large memorial of photos and Christmas decorations remains on the fence at the Wakefield overpass.  Wallace’s parents told PIX 11 they remain overwhelmed by the love they received at their son’s wake and funeral.

“So many kids came in and said ‘Matthew was my friend, when nobody would be.  Matthew stuck up for me.  Matthew wouldn’t let kids pick on me.  The fact that so many people came out and affirmed he was a good person, it meant a lot to us.”

Mount Saint Michael Academy has set up a scholarship fund in Matthew Wallace’s name.

The school address is:  Mount Saint Michael Academy, 4300 Murdock Avenue, The Bronx, New York 10466.

The Wallace family asks anyone with new information to contact their attorney, Alexander Gastman.  The phone number is (480) 442-7862.