Professor Who Fled Nazis as Child Dies After Getting Knocked Over Onto N.Y.C. Subway Platform

Kurt Salzinger, an 89-year-old professor of behavioral psychology, died last week after falling at a New York City subway station in October.

The fall occurred on Oct. 27 at Pennsylvania Station, as Salzinger and his wife were heading to Macy’s for a shopping trip, the New York Times reported.

A public information officer with the New York Police Department confirmed to PEOPLE that Salzinger was knocked over by a man trying to get on the subway. Police have yet to identify the man.

The incident, which is still under investigation, is being treated as an accident at this time.

After falling to the ground, Salzinger was hospitalized with bleeding of the brain and went on to contract pneumonia before his death, according to the Times. He died on Thursday.

Salzinger is survived by his wife, Dr. Deanna Chitayat, 85, six children and stepchildren and four grandchildren, according to his obituary.

In an interview with the New York Post, Salzinger’s wife remarked that after falling on the platform, her husband “lay there like a dead man, not moving.”

She added that the man, whom she described as slim and seemingly athletic, “stopped and looked at Kurt and saw him laying there and then jumped into the car.”

“He died because of that guy,” she added. “I don’t think he meant to kill him, but he killed him.”

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Salzinger, who was born in Austria, fled from Nazi persecution alongside his father, mother and older brother when he was 11, the Times reported. The trip to New York took two and a half years.

The professor taught at numerous schools throughout his career — including a 19-year tenure at Hofstra University — and wrote or co-wrote 14 books and over 200 research articles, according to a release from Hofstra.

A memorial service was held for Salzinger on Sunday at Riverside Chapel in N.Y.C.

At the service, the Times reported that Hofstra professor Dr. Mark Serper remarked, “The world has lost another giant among scholars, a singular intellect, a voice of reason and a mensch.”

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