Man Killed On Train Tracks
A Huntington man known for his love of music, street art and his irrepressible personality was killed early Tuesday morning after being struck by a Long Island Rail Road train in Syosset, MTA police have confirmed.
MTA spokesman Sal Arena confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the man who died was Travis Rittenhouse, 34, of Huntington. He was a Harborfields High School graduate.
Arena said the incident occurred at approximately 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. According to MTA police, Rittenhouse is believed to have “jumped down on the tracks” in an attempt to cross over from the westbound platform. However, an 11:42 p.m. eastbound train arriving at Syosset, en route to Cold Spring Harbor and Huntington, hit him while he was attempting to cross.
“It’s not clear why this man decided to do what he did,” Arena said.
With that question still unanswered Wednesday, friends were reeling at the news of Rittenhouse’s sudden death and reminiscing about a man who stood out from the crowd.
“You couldn’t put him a category – he loved music, he loved art, he loved people,” friend Nicholas Mittler, of Huntington, said Wednesday.
Mittler and Rittenhouse met through a local chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation, an international hip-hop awareness organization with roots in the South Bronx in the early 1970s. Rittenhouse was known for his love of music, a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of old-school rap, a passion for skateboarding and eclectic tastes that brought him in contact with people from many walks of life.
In his younger days, he was one of the most prolific graffiti artists in Long Island and New York City, using the tag “Owe” most recently.
“Everywhere you can go, you can see an Owe piece,” Mittler said.
As he got older, he harnessed his love for abstract street art by transitioning to canvas.
“The dude was talented – I remember being at his house for hours and watching him do all these canvasses,” Mittler said.
Shawn Williams, a Harborfields High School graduate who now lives in Ronkonkoma, said Rittenhouse was one of a kind.
“He was always original. He never followed the crowd,” Williams said. “He did what he thought was cool and he was respected by everybody.”
Williams and Rittenhouse met when they were 9 years old, when Williams had just moved to Greenlawn.
“He’s my best friend,” Williams said.
Rittenhouse is survived by his mother, Evelyn Hunter, and older brother, Rodney Hunter. Visitation is Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station. A 10:30 a.m. funeral service is scheduled for Monday at the funeral home.