Sections

Flushing woman pushed off subway platform releases book

TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

More than 30 years after overcoming a horrifying attack in which she was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train and lost her hand, Renee Katz is still finding ways to inspire.

The Flushing musician has announced the release of her book, “Never Been Gone,” which seeks to embolden other survivors. The book contains poetry she wrote throughout the years, from the days following the subway incident up until present day.

“As unfortunate as it was, there were lessons that could be learned moving forward,” she said. “I made up my mind I was going to feel and experience my life and go into the fear rather than avoiding it.”

On June 7, 1979, the flautist’s life changed forever when she was pushed off a subway platform in Midtown Manhattan by an unidentified man. The 17-year-old fell onto the tracks in front of a train, which severed her hand. Surgeons at Bellevue Hospital were able to miraculously reattach the hand after 16 hours of surgery, but she has never regained full function.

The story played out on front pages across the city and around the country.

Her new book chronicled that day and the months that followed as she coped with her injury and figured out how to rebuild her future.

Although the promising student, who attended the High School of Music and Art, could no longer play the flute, she made sure music was still part of her life.

“I tried to redefine my life using the things I was passionate about,” she said. “I tried focusing on my voice. I’m very blessed I can sing. Music is part of my soul and nothing is going to stop that from happening.”

She became a cabaret singer and released a CD, with the same name as her new book, which shares many of the same messages and themes as her poems. Katz, who now works as an occupational therapist, said she is currently working on a second album she plans to release next year.

In the weeks that followed her attack, Katz said letters sent from well-wishing New Yorkers helped her through her ordeal. She also took inspiration from her father, Isidore, a Holocaust survivor.

“If my father could get through all that horrible stuff, I could get through this,” she said. “I wasn’t going to let myself become numb and bitter. I would be playing into the hands of the guy who pushed me off that subway platform if I did that.”

Katz’s attacker was never found. A suspect was put on trial in 1980, but acquitted of all charges.

She said the attack made her much more aware of her environment.

“I still have a little post-traumatic stress that gets the better of me, but I work through it,” she said.

Katz rarely rides the subway anymore since she has learned to drive, but when she has to, she never goes on her own.

“An accident really causes you to grow up much quicker,” she said. “The gratitude I feel from things is more intense because I know life can be taken away so quickly.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 5:17 pm, June 12, 2014
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

no change from queens says:
The nuts who troll subway platforms and city streets are still roaming free instead of being locked up for the public good. Do we never learn?
June 12, 2014, 9:06 am
Scott Bowers from South of Boston says:
I have the pleasure of bring Renee's new brother in law as her and Barry were just married.

It amazes me every day to see her positive attitude and love and passion for living life. It is so very easy to turn into a bitter person. She is an inspiration.

I admire Renee so much. Her ordeal certainly puts life into perspective and opens your eyes to what truly is important in life.

I am very lucky to have her in my life. I love her very very much and wish her only the best life has to offer.
June 14, 2014, 10 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Classifieds

Do you know an immigrant in Queens who has made an impact on the community? Nominate a person who has made a difference for the 2018 Queens Ambassador Awards.
Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!