The incident happened before 8 a.m. Monday at Jerome Avenue and West Kingsbridge Road.
Police say 45-year-old Fernando Balbuena-Flores jumped onto the tracks while holding his daughter and was hit by a southbound 4 train. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Sources say the child was not hit by the train. She was taken to Jacobi Medical Center to be treated for scratches.
The train platform was packed with commuters during the morning rush. People frantically tried to wave down the train operator as he rounded the corner and pulled into the station.
But it was too late and witnesses say the man jumped onto the tracks with his little girl. Amazingly the child found a safe spot and was not seriously hurt.
Cellphone video captured good Samaritans helping the frightened child get back up onto the platform.
The crowd and EMTs comforted the little girl before she was taken to the hospital.
Right before the man jumped, witnesses say he was on the phone and was calm.
"I heard him telling the wife that, 'You look out for the other two kids, I'm gonna take her to school,' and then he said, 'I love you,'" witness Pamela Ivy said.
The little girl's mother, Niurka Caraballo, spoke out later Monday afternoon:
"Please respect my pain. Thank you for being there, thank you for having my back. Thank you to the 52nd precinct - I'm home now and they're still reaching out to make sure that I made it home OK, that I eat, that my daughter eats. Thank you, but please respect my pain. The child is in perfect condition, thank you to God and the angels who took care of her. Everything is fine, except the absence of my husband - thank you."
The girl came home with her mother and godfather Monday night to an outpouring of compassion from neighbors. Later police and one of the Good Samaritans brought groceries to the family.
Neighbors said the father was a quiet man who suffered from depression and was on and off his medication.
The train operator who was behind the wheel has 20 years of experience and was treated for trauma.
"This is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the family members as well as with our employees who responded - this is a traumatic event for everyone involved," said MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek.
The New York City Administration for Children's Services released the following statement:
"Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City. We are investigating this case with NYPD."
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