A transit worker accused of killing his infant son and tossing his body in the East River portrayed himself Friday as a doting dad with big dreams for his baby boy, after denying any role in the child’s grisly death.
James Currie, 37, who cops said fled to Thailand in the hours after his son’s body was found floating near the South Street Seaport, insisted he had dropped the boy off with the child’s grandmother, and only went overseas on an emergency trip to check on an uncle.
In a jailhouse interview with the Daily News, Currie said he was saving money for his son’s college fund, and trying to get custody and rescue him from the chaotic life Currie said the boy was experiencing with his mother.
“I love my son,” Currie said from a room at the Brooklyn Detention Center, where he was remanded without bail. “Do you think a father can hurt — hurt my own son? I wanted him to succeed. To be better than what I am now. I don’t want him working for the MTA. I want him at a better company with better pay.”
Currie, who works as an MTA station cleaner, picked up the tot from the child’s mother at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 4. The boy was seen on video footage alive, in his father’s arms, as he walked into his Co-op City building about 20 minutes later.
A day later, 7-month-old Mason Saldana’s diaper-clad body surfaced under the Brooklyn Bridge in lower Manhattan. Police suspect Currie killed Mason in his apartment, then stashed his body into a backpack as he walked toward the East River.
On Aug 6, Currie fled the country, and two days later he texted the boy’s mom, saying, “’You will never see Mason again,” according to court papers.
In another text message he bragged that he would not get caught.
“I am not in the USA,” he wrote, according to cops. “’The good news is that we will never see each other again.”
Currie was arrested before he left the airport in Bangkok, and extradited back to New York, where he was charged with concealment of a human corpse. Currie could face additional charges.
Currie denied that he killed the boy or dumped his body in the water. He claims he returned the boy while the mother was still at work..
He said he was “shocked” something so brutal could happen to his son.
A police source says the medical examiner’s full report could take a month. The source said cops are looking into all possibilities into the child’s death, including that Currie had rolled over on the baby.
Currie said he had initial doubts that he was the father. But after DNA tests established his paternity, he said he warmed to the task, even mimicking how he held the baby, and joking about his struggles to change a diaper.
“I have so many pictures on my phone,” Currie said. “I was trying to teach him how to crawl and I was on my hands and knees, but he’s just staring at me, like what? What are you doing? And I took so many pics of us like that.”
Currie, said he got the MTA job about four years ago, around the same time he met Mason’s mother. He said the job rescued him from homelessness and allowed him to save money for his son’s future.
“I wanted him to succeed, to give him what I didn’t.have,” Currie said. “I haven’t seen my dad since I was 8, and I don’t want Mason growing up like that.”
Currie said he has been receiving death threats in the detention center since his arrest.
“I just want my life to go back to normal,” Currie said. “I had a whole plan. You have this whole plan and then you find out …
“I didn’t know, and now I’m just thinking about it and it’s crazy,” Currie said, starting sentences that he did not finish. “You think you have this set. And then…, I could be with him right now.”