TORONTO - An elderly man who cried out for help as he was being mugged on a Toronto subway train received no assistance from other commuters, police said Monday.

It was not immediately clear how many people were on the train or why they ignored the plight of the 79-year-old victim. "It is disappointing," said Brad Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission.

"People may feel intimidated about getting involved."

Police said the incident began when a person seated next to the victim asked him for change. The elderly man said he didn't have any and the person asked a second time.

A second person then asked him for money.

The victim tried to activate the passenger-assistance alarm - a yellow strip above the seats - but could not reach it, police said, and a fight ensued.

The attackers fled with his wallet when the train pulled into an east-end station and the victim gave chase, police said.

"He's apparently in really good shape," said police spokesman Const. Tony Vella.

"He chased after them. He tried his best to apprehend them."

The name of the victim was not released. The suspects are believed to be in their 20s.

News of the Toronto incident came amid reports that a homeless man who was stabbed when he rushed to assist a woman being attacked on a New York City street died on the sidewalk as pedestrians strolled by.

A surveillance video obtained by The New York Post shows Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yaxe lying face down for more than an hour. Several people turned their heads, and a few gawked before moving on.

Police were investigating.

Ross said other people on the Toronto subway car may have been concerned that pressing the alarm would have drawn attention to themselves but stressed the alarm on subway cars is silent.

Pressing the strip alerts only the guard and driver, who then notify transit control and security officials before the train pulls into a station, he said.

"We do encourage customers, if they see another customer or passenger in distress - whether it's a medical incident or a criminal occurrence - to press the yellow strip," Ross said.

He said he did not know why the victim was unable to reach the alarm himself.

Police later found the wallet on the street near the Chester subway station. For investigative purposes, they would not say whether its contents were missing.

Transit officials said snatch-and-grabs of iPods or cellphones and similar items are fairly common.

However, a robbery of an elderly passenger is "rare," Ross said.

Police were using security-cameras located throughout the system to try to identify the two thugs.

They are asking anyone who may have information on the incident to contact them.

As a safety tip, Vella urged riders to "be aware of their surroundings" and to know where the alarm is located.

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