A 6-year-old Northeast Washington boy was in fair condition yesterday at D.C. General Hospital after an accident Wednesday in which he was dragged down a stretch of Benning Road when his foot momentarily got caught in the door of a Metrobus, D.C. police reported.

Cardell Shelton of 529 16th St. NE underwent several hours of surgery on his right leg at the hospital Wednesday night following the 6:50 a.m. accident.

Police said the boy sustained a deep gash on his leg when a bus tire just missed running over his leg but "pinched" the skin.

The accident occurred when the youth was waiting with his mother at the corner of 16th Street and Benning Road NE for a Metrobus to take him to his first grade class at Hyde Elementary School, 32nd and O streets NW.

Shelton got on a bus but his mother, Carol Jefferies, noticed it was an X3 bus, bound for McLean Gardens in Upper Northwest, the wrong bus, said Marilyn Dicus, a Metro spokesman.

Shelton's mother told him to get off the crowded bus, and he was stepping down when the driver, not noticing the boy was there, closed the door, said Detective Robert Schaar of the department's traffic division.

The bus took off westbound on Benning Road with the boy's leg caught in the door and the boy hanging out the door, police said. Shelton was dragged about 20 feet, Schaar said.

"People on the bus and the mother on the curb were yelling so the driver stopped," Schaar said.

But as the bus stopped, the boy worked himself free of the door and part of his right leg was run over by the bus. Police said they believe the tire "pinched" the skin on his leg rather than running over it.

The driver, John Adams, 37, said he hadn't seen the youth when he shut the door, police said.

Police said they had not filed charges against Adams but are still investigating the accident.

Adams, a Metro driver for nine years was suspended from his job without pay pending a Metro investigation, Dicus said.

Such a suspension is routine after an accident involving serious injury, she said.

Adams, who was weeping beside his bus when police arrived, was treated for shock at D.C. General, police said.

Neither Adams nor the boy's mother, who works as a housekeeper at the Georgetown Children's House, 3224 N Street NW, could be reached for comment.