R. Umar Abbasi, the freelance photographer who snapped Tuesday's gruesome New York Post front-page image of a man seconds before he was struck and killed by a subway train, said Wednesday that he could not have saved the victim.
The cover photo — depicting 58-year-old Ki Suk Han seconds before a downtown Q train hit him — sparked outrage among readers, many of whom questioned why the photographer did not pull the man from the tracks.
On NBC's "Today," Abbasi said it was only 20 seconds before the train to hit Han after he was pushed from the platform by a man with whom he was arguing.
"If this thing happened again with the same circumstances, whether I had a camera or not, and I was running toward it, I could not have rescued Mr. Han," Abbasi told Matt Lauer on the morning program. "There was no way. If I could have, I would have."
Abbasi was on assignment for the Post in Times Square, taking photos for a story about a shoeless homeless man who was given a pair of new boots by a police officer last week.
When he saw Han on the tracks, and heard the subway loudspeaker announce the oncoming train, he began snapping pictures to alert the driver with his camera flash, he said.
"If you look carefully into the eyes of the conductor's glasses, you will see two lights," Abbasi said. "I think those are my flash lights that are being reflected off."
Lauer and co-host Natalie Morales pressed Abbasi about the photo, asking if he "had any misgivings about selling the photograph."
"I would call it licensing to use it," he responded. "Selling a photograph of this nature, you know, sounds mobid."
Watch the interview: