An award-winning artist was “instantly paralysed” when she was shoved from behind into a Manhattan subway train in a seemingly random attack, her family says.
Emine Yilmaz Ozsoy, 35, suffered critical injuries when her alleged attacker forcefully pushed her head into the side of a moving train at Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street around 6am on Sunday.
Kamal Semrade, 39, appeared in court for arraignment on charges of attempted murder and assault on Wednesday.
The victim’s husband, Ferdi Ozsoy, released a statement on Wednesday to say Ms Ozsoy’s life had been “profoundly impacted by this tragic act of violence”.
“But of course, faith and hope are never-ending,” he said. “She’s young. She’s a strong woman. She’s creative. She’s empathetic. She’s a warrior. She’s a true friend who goes out of her way to help people.”
Mr Ozsoy said the alleged assault highlighted the “pressing need for improvement within the MTA”.
“It is crucial for the mayor (Eric Adams) to recognise that prioritising the safety and security of the city’s residents is vital for their well being-and prosperity,” he said.
“We must ensure the ability to safeguard individuals, including loved ones like my wife.”
Prosecutors allege that Ms Ozsoy and Mr Semrade got onto the same subway train at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station in Queens on Sunday morning.
They both got off the train at Lexington and 63 St on the Upper East Side of Manhattan when Ms Ozsoy was blindsided from behind by the alleged attack.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr Semrade was walking behind her on the platform, and as the subway car began to move, he “grabbed her head with both his hands and shoved her with all his force into the moving subway car”, NBC reported.
“The victim hit the train and her face and head rolled along it. (She) then crashed back to the platform where she was instantly paralysed,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Carolyn McGuigan said in court, according to the NY Post.
She suffered a cervical spine fracture, broken fingers and damage to four blood vessels, the prosecutor said.
It’s not known if any words were exchanged between the pair, but the NYPD has described the attack as entirely unprovoked.
On her website, Ms Ozsoy is described as a Turkish-born designer and illustrator who had published work in top magazines and newspapers.
She moved to New York in 2017 with her US-born husband.
“We took a chance. We wanted to start a new life,” Mr Oszoy said in the statement.
Ms Ozsoy had been working in a cafe and had wanted to “build a community in NYC, where she could recognize local people’s faces,” her husband said.
A GoFundme fundraising page set up to help the family with medical bills has received $125,000 in donations.
“Doctors initially informed us she had a slim chance of recovering movement below the neck. In just one day, she challenged that prognosis by moving her arms,” Mr Ozsoy wrote on the page.
“It is a huge step, but her road to recovery will be long and challenging. She’s a fighter and is already fighting to recover. She will get there, but she needs everyone’s help.”