New York City was reeling after a 22-year-old mother carrying shopping bags, a stroller and her 1-year-old baby daughter fell down a flight of subway station stairs and died Monday. As people mourned the death, the incident renewed discussion about accessibility in one of the world’s largest transit systems.
The woman, Malaysia Goodson, of Stamford, Conn., was found unconscious at about 8 p.m. Monday in a stairwell of the subway station on Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street, police said. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.
Lt. Paul Ng, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, said that Goodson was carrying her baby, who was unharmed, in her arms. Some media reports said that Goodson was carrying the child in a stroller.
It was not immediately clear if Goodson was affected by a medical condition. The medical examiner’s office, which is investigating the death, did not immediately respond to a request for information. The agency that runs New York’s subway system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said in a statement it had found the stairs, railing and floor at the station where Goodson was found in good condition.
“This is an absolutely heartbreaking incident,” the agency said in a statement.
Dieshe Goodson, Malaysia’s brother, told News 12 Connecticut that his sister had been in Manhattan for a shopping trip, saying she had a lot of bags with her in addition to the stroller.
“When I was on my way to the hospital last night, I was praying that it wasn’t her the whole time,” he told the television station.
New York has the most subway stations of any transit system in the world. But three-quarters of its 472 stations do not have elevators, lifts or other features to make them fully accessible to those who are unable to use stairs, according to MTA. For the stations that do have elevators, service outages have been a long-standing complaint.
A group of disability and transit advocates planned to gather at the Manhattan subway station on Wednesday to call on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D-New York) to commit to a plan for full subway accessibility.
The MTA said it was working on a plan to ensure that riders will never be more than two stops away from a station with an elevator, saying it planned to add as many as 50 elevators in the next five years.