New York City
From the time he was a young boy, Darius McCollum was fascinated by trains. The trains were his hiding spot to get away from his troubles. But when he took it upon himself to steal trains, he became infamous.
Off the Rails, a film by Adam Irving that tells Darius’ story, gets its United States theatrical run this November, qualifying it for Oscar consideration. It can be seen in Los Angeles at the Laemmie Music Hall, November 4 through 10, and in New York City at the Metrograph Theater, November 18 through 24.
McCollum, who is said to have Asperger’s Syndrome, has been in jail more than 30 times for taking trains and buses for joy rides (often with passengers unaware), trespassing, and impersonating various mass transit personnel. A panel of individuals with disabilities reviewed the film, making their own observations.
“I never saw someone who took so much pride in his job,” said reviewer Joseph Padalino. “He doesn’t hurt the passengers. He calls out the stops with more enthusiasm than the real drivers. I wouldn’t even care about his disability. I would ride with him.”
“It makes you wonder how safe the train system is,” according to Anthony DiFato. “You have him in jail and there is no counseling. The criminal justice system is not fair. It’s not like he killed someone.”
McCollum’s story is also being considered for a feature film, starring Julia Roberts as McCollum’s attorney, Sally Butler. Meanwhile, Darius sits in jail since November 2015 for his latest escapade and is facing a possible 15-year sentence behind bars. A $15 million lawsuit has been filed by Butler on McCollum’s behave, citing the lack of mental health services that he has received thus far in prison.
-Written as a group, including Dolores Palermo, Joseph Jones, Anthony DiFato, Joseph Padalino, Anthony Kefalinos, Anthony Buscarello, Jonathan Chernock, Andre Fitzgerald, and others, edited by Edward Gregory and Kathryn Carse.
- For more information on Off the Rails, visit the film’s website at Off the Rails Movie online..
On a clear and warm first day of Autumn, Joseph Padalino cut the ribbon to new accessible
trails at Mount Loretto Unique Area. Flanked by the politicians and officials who made it all possible, Padalino let out a whoop of delight.
“I think it’s a very good park for people with disabilities like me,” observed Padalino, who uses a wheelchair. “It’s a very tranquil place to meditate. People feel at peace in that park.”
Padalino attended with a contingent of participants and staff from Lifestyles for the Disabled, one of a number of organizations represented, including Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and the Independent Living Center.
“When we build a trail to be accessible, it’s for everyone,” Carole Fraser, Universal Access Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), told Padalino. “It isn’t only for people with disabilities, it’s for people with small children in strollers. It’s for older adults and everyone to come and enjoy these spaces together. Everyone can come and be more accepting of each other.”
Steve Zahn, Regional Director for the DEC, thanked State Assemblymen Ron Castorina, Jr. and Michael Cusick; Ed Burke, Staten Island Deputy Borough President; and NYC Parks officials for their efforts to improve the Pleasant Plains park.
The festivities took place on a long, wide gravel path flanked by mowed grass and goldenrod. The program was followed by a walk down the path to a deck on a bucolic pond where everyone can enjoy the ducks and, when there is more water, some fishing.
“Did you know that Staten Island has 12,000 acres of parks and natural areas,” Burke told reporter Anthony Pabon. “That’s a third of Staten Island. So we’ve done a great job of protecting parkland and natural areas like this.”
In addition to the trail at Mount Loretto, improvements in access at New York State parks in the area also include amenities at Butler Manor Woods, North Mt Loretto State Forest and Lemon Creek.
”We have everything here, deer, raccoon, woodchuck, skunk,” Ray Matarazzo of the Protectors of the Pine Oak Woods told reporter Rachel Chernock. “The big thrill of the day was the bald eagle. They’re always soaring overhead.”
Mount Loretto Unique Area is at 6450 Hylan Blvd. on Staten Island. Call 718.482.4942 for information.
- Rachel Chernock, Anthony DiCostanzo, Anthony DiFato, Kareem Ellison, Steven Filoramo, Anthony Kefalinos, Andrew Moszenberg, Anthony Pabon, Joseph Padalino, Dolores Palermo, and Gregory Perosi with Kathryn Carse and Edward Gregory.
Read “A facelift for state lands: More accessible trails, walkways, parking” at SILive.com.
Demand Facilities for Incoming Special Education Population
With colorful signs and boisterous chants, parents and PTA members rallied outside PS37/ Great Kills High School on June 15th to demand a larger school with more up-to-date facilities to serve the growing population of special needs students.
“We need a new high school now” and “Disability isn’t a choice. Discrimination is. Stop now,” were among the messages for City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and the Department of Education.
Advocates say with 10 eighth graduates this year and only four seats available, the problem needs to be solved now with a temporary facility for September. They are also pressing for a more permanent solution to serve their children and rejecting the DOE’s alternative to expand the District 75 program by providing seats at New Dorp High School. Their severely disabled teens, they say, need more supervision in a school with self-contained classrooms.
[Follow the story in the Staten Island Advance at SILive.com: City dragging feet on special ed school expansion.]
[Watch NY1 News coverage at NY1 Online: Parents Rally for New Special Needs School.]
Summer is almost here. But Staten Island is already enjoying warm breezes and sunshine. Here are a few scenes from the community.
In honor of Fleet Week 2016, Life-Wire News Service reviews the top ten interesting and surprising facts about Fort Wadsworth and the Narrows in New York Harbor.
1. Fort Wadsworth is the longest continuously operated fort in the United States. It was open from 1663 to 1994.
2. Fort Wadsworth was open to the public as part of the National Park Service in 1995.
3. During the War of 1812, Fort Wadsworth was one of a number of forts that kept the British out of New York Harbor. They attacked and burned down Washington D.C. instead.
4. Battery Weed, the fort at the water’s edge, was built during the 1840s, and Fort Tompkins, the fort on the bluff, was built from 1859 to 1876.
5. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which connects Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island and Brooklyn was open in 1964.
6. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was named for the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. However, his name was misspelled with only one “z” to name the bridge.
7. The population on Staten Island exploded after the bridge was open, increasing from over 220,000 to over 470,000 today.
8. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the last great work of Staten Islander Othmar Ammann. Among the bridges he designed are the Bayonne Bridge, the Goethals Bridge and the Outerbridge Crossing, which all connect Staten Island to New Jersey.
9. There is no pedestrian crossing on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge . There are two annual events during which the bridge can be crossed without a vehicle — the New York City Marathon and the Five Boro Bike Tour.
10. Runners gather in Fort Wadsworth before beginning the run over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge during the NYC Marathon. Bikers gather in the fort for a festival after crossing the bridge during the Five Boro Bike Tour.
Photos were taken during a Life-Wire News Service photo shoot at Fleet Week 2016.
Text by Anthony DiFato, Joseph Padalino, Anthony DiCostanzo, Meredith Arout, and Adriana Kolari with Kathryn Carse.
Photos from Tribeca and The World Trade Center by Meredith Arout for Life-Wire News Service.
The New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presented the 59th Annual New York Emmy® Awards on Saturday, March 19th at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square. Life-Wire News Service correspondent Eric Schwacke and photographer Meredith Arout were on hand to capture the moment.