Metro train departs with baby in stroller before mother is able to board

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 10:17 PM

A Green Line train left a Metro station Wednesday morning with a baby in a stroller aboard after the doors closed, leaving the mother frantic on the platform, a witness said. Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff confirmed that the incident took place but declined to identify the woman separated from her child.

Barbara Runion, 59, of Hyattsville said she was on crowded car No. 2033 when it stopped about 7:50 a.m. at the West Hyattsville Station. The doors shut before the woman pushing the stroller could board, and the train pulled away, she said.

"We were frantically waving at the mother," said Runion, a legal assistant at Washington Harbour. "It happened so fast."

On board the packed rail car, passengers tried to determine what to do. "There we were with this little baby," Runion said.

She instructed a man next to her to alert the train operator via the intercom.

"There's a baby in a stroller here, and the mother was left behind in Hyattsville," Runion said the man told the operator. She said the operator acknowledged the call with a couple of words but did not provide any instructions on what to do about the situation.

The train proceeded to Fort Totten, with several passengers huddling around the stroller, Runion said. The baby was silent, possibly asleep, Runion said.

Once the train pulled into the Fort Totten Station, several passengers disembarked with the baby and spoke to Metro employees, she said.

Woodruff said Metro Transit Police arrived and guarded the baby until the mother arrived on a train from Hyattsville. The mother did not lodge a complaint about the incident, he said, and the train operator did not appear to have made a mistake.

The mother "just pushed the child on, and we can assume she wanted to get on as well, but the doors closed," Woodruff said.

Train operators cannot wait until everyone boards to close the doors and leave the station, he said.

"The trains have to stay on schedule," Woodruff said.

The Metro spokesman also said the doors on rail cars don't automatically reopen if there's something between them.

"The doors don't just bounce back open, so customers have to heed the warnings that the doors are closing," he said.

Runion, a frequent Metro rider since the system opened in 1976, said, "This should not have happened. How can you slam a train door on this baby and mother? It's horrendous."

Metro is "the worst place in the world to lose a baby," she said. "Goodness knows what the mother did."

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