Notice: This post talks about death, which may be an uncomfortable topic for some readers.
I first met Chris Serrano at the Brooklyn-bound D/N/R train platform at the 36th Street Station. He and a friend were waiting for the R, and they were both hopping from the platform to the back of a stalled train, and then jumping back to the tiled floor the second before it pulled away. I knew what he was trying to do, so I talked to him about it.
“I’m famous online,” he said, and pulled out his phone to show me his Instagram page, @heavy_minds. He showed me a picture from the top of the Williamsburg Bridge, which he said he climbed a few weeks back.
We made a plan to get together and explore some of the city’s sights. First, the three of us (he had brought along a person who I believe was his girlfriend) went to a rooftop in Chelsea. Even though the roof had a protective fence around it, he clambered over it and hung his feet over the edge. Then he passed me his camera so that I could get a picture of him.
Afterward, we walked uptown and entered a random hotel, hoping to try to get to the roof there too. We walked up a staircase until we reached a spot where Sharpie graffiti darkened the walls. However, a sign there warned that a silent alarm would alert the front desk if anyone opened the rooftop door.
I decided not to take the risk and the girl he was with seemed ambivalent, so we ended up taking the elevator back down.
“If I was alone, I would have just done it,” he said, pointing out that we would never know if the sign’s threat was real unless we challenged it. I quickly got the impression that Chris had a go for it mentality when it came to life, one where he left no door unopened.
Afterward, we went to Midtown where we caught another rooftop view – one that let us see the burning lights of Times Square. It was a successful night out.
His death was not a glamorous one. Possibly with alcohol in his system, he clambered onto the top of a Coney Island-bound F train in the early morning hours at the 4th Avenue 9th Street subway station in Brooklyn, reportedly to take a photo. According to The Daily News, he hit an elevated beam, possibly not knowing it was there, possibly not responding in time. He was 25 years old.
Recreating those final moments in my mind horrifies me each time, and a small wave of dread runs over me when I think that in one moment he was alive, and the next moment he wasn’t.
He reached over 100,000 followers on Instagram around that time, and his photographs are unparalleled. I have left them here as part of a permanent online memorial wall.
My favorite pictures by him are below.
If you knew Chris and have a photo or quote to add, write to us in the “Contact” section.