N.J. woman dies after fall from World Trade Center Oculus escalator, police say

NEW YORK -- A 29-year-old New Jersey woman plunged about 30 feet to her death off an escalator inside the famed World Trade Center transit hub known as the Oculus on Saturday morning, police said.

Jenny Santos, of Kearny, was trying to retrieve a hat dropped by her twin sister while the two were on an escalator at about 5:30 a.m. when she reached too far over the railing and tumbled over the edge, a law enforcement official said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the incident and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Port Authority police spokesman Joseph Pentangelo said the woman was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. Police are investigating. 

Santos was a graduate of William Paterson University, CBS New York reports. One friend described her as a “treasure who will be missed by everyone who knew her.”  

“It had to be horrible for her sister standing right there. You know, it’s just dreadful, it’s just unbelievable something like that can happen,” Phyllis Herald, of Paterson, New Jersey, told CBS New York. 

“In my opinion, I think that they need to build the walls a little higher when they build these escalators, because the same thing happened at Shea Stadium when they rebuilt Shea Stadium. Someone fell over the escalators,” Juliana Herald, of Glendale, Queens, said. “The walls are not high enough to prevent tragic accidents like what happened today.”

The striking $3.9 billion transportation hub was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava and provides connections between New Jersey’s PATH trains and New York City’s subways. It opened about a year ago and is used daily by more than 300,000 commuters. Light beams in from the windows in the dizzying, soaring platform to the shopping mall below.