CTA stroller accident: The plot thickens as mom's story gains legs

Chicago Police now say that “stroller mom’s” story is holding up, based on the bits of paint found on the stroller — they match paint from the barricade the mom said it hit.

So, I guess this news makes the mom’s story more believable — despite the fact that more than 50% of CTA Tattler readers said in a poll that they think stroller mom is shading the truth.  But then, about a third of use really don’t know what to believe.

In his column today, Eric Zorn also expresses his own doubts in the mom’s story, and reports an interesting fact I hadn’t heard before: The mom was holding the stroller and the baby when she got to the top of the platform. Then she unfolded the stroller, put the baby in it, and *then* pushed the stroller partway onto the car. If she was holding the baby and stroller, why take the time to unfold it and put her in it? Why not just step onto the train car? Questions, questions.

We’ll keep monitoring this story. It has all the basic ingredients of a great story: baby, mom, stroller, CTA.

Who could ask for anything more?


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  • Picture this:
    ~Mom runs up the steps with baby in one arm and stroller in the other (baby is not in the stroller)
    ~train doors are closing when mom gets to the top, so she thrusts the stroller ahead of her and in the door in an attempt to keep the doors open to board.
    ~door closes on a very narrow metal post of the stroller (just above one of the wheels?)
    ~this part of the stroller is only about 1 inch in diameter and isn't big enough to trigger the doors to bounce open. She can't pull it out because the wheels are bigger and are stuck inside.
    ~The train takes off
    ~mom doesn't let go and runs along the train, with baby in arms, trying to pull the stroller out.
    ~in her intensity to pull the stroller out, mom doesn't realize she is reaching the end of the platform
    ~she hits the yellow barricade at the end of the platform, loses control of the baby - who goes flying out of her arms 10 feet further onto the ballast.

    Another option on this theory, is that when the door closed on the stroller, all of the stroller EXCEPT one handle was inside the train and she was holding on to that in an attempt to pull it out. The post leading to the handle is also a very narrow post and would explain why the stroller was found inside the train later in apparently good shape. WHERE the paint was found on the stroller could shed some light on the plausibility of this or any other theory.

    This presents a theory that she didn't plan it, but was a mother traumatized by a horrifying incident - even if she is not telling the whole truth.

    I think it is that horrify aspect of what could have happened to the baby that keeps so many of us wondering what really did happen.

  • Wow. Now these are very interesting -- and quite plausible -- theories on what could have happened. If true, the mom is indeed shading the truth a bit, but certainly doesn't sound like she planned it to get a cash settlement.

  • I've commented elsewhere about conspiratorial theories, but there is no point to doing so here.

    However, one point does arise from reports such as that the police camera at Morse and Glenwood Aves. can't see doors opening on the east side of the train, and various claims that people who were on the train aren't talking. CTA now has so many cameras on the buses that they were able to distribute high definition color pictures of the guy who allegedly shot up the 67th St. bus, and claim to have pictures of him firing from the outside. It appears, not only because of that threat, but also to resolve incidents such as this, that CTA needs to get Homeland Security money pronto to put cameras on all L platforms and trains, not not just wait until the next generation of cars gets to the Red Line, which may be no earlier than 6 or 7 years from now.

  • That top comment is completely fabricated slander against this woman. There is no evidence whatsoever that she did any of that. Seriously, Kevin, I can't believe you're encouraging people to make up stories about these people, both the mom and the driver. We don't know what happened! I realize that's an unsatisfying conclusion for the judgmental drama queens, but it happens to be the maximum extent of the truth available. This blog, or at least this meme of it, is turning into the CTA Hellhole.

  • In reply to twestgard:

    For that reason, while I was willing to say that TV reported that there were witnesses, etc., the confusing nature of the various factual claims made after the incident leads me to the conclusion that I am not going to play gumshoe or say whether the incident was fabricated or not, but the police, CTA, and undoubtedly plaintiff's attorney's investigations should go forward. If it comes to a suit, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, although I'm not sure what the burden would be with regard to any disciplinary proceeding within the CTA. For instance, some suggest that a suspension without pay might not be warranted given the uncertain state of the record in this case. Not having first-hand access to the facts, I won't comment further.

  • In reply to twestgard:

    Tom, I really think you need to lighten up a bit. I'm not encouraging anyone to make up stories, I'm merely reporting the facts as I know them about a very interesting case that has all of Chicago talking. If people want to "make up" stories, that is their prerogative. Since I can neither confirm nor deny the stories -- nor can you -- I will leave them here. At the very least, I think you have to admit the woman's story has some gaps.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    The legal question is when does it get to the point of libel (technically not slander here, as it isn't spoken). See here for a definition. http://www.expertlaw.com/library/personal_injury/defamation.html

    I don't know if District 299 Reader's conjectures go over that line, but someone maintaining this means of publication needs to be prepared either to accept responsibility for publishing something that is, or identifying the perpetrator.

    But, as I posted on the page of an anonymous IP poster on Wikipedia who I believed was engaged in obvious libel accusing someone of being a knowing participant in a crime, I'm not the one facing the risk of the above. Also, I'm not in the business of giving free legal opinions (even on the Chicago Bar-Tender).

  • In reply to jack:

    Apparently what I said above foreshadowed this:

  • In reply to jack:

    Furthermore the reason why the CTA needs to lobby the US Department of Homeland Security for dollars to on a wide scale, install more cameras at rail stations. We wouldnt even still be talking about this if we had cameras to show ACTUALLY what happened.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I'm just amazed at how many people want this woman to be some kind of monster. Perhaps because she didn't do enough to prevent the accident in the first place? I've been following Zorn's blog, and some of the theories are pretty far out there. As I said before, I don't believe she pre-planned any of this, or wanted her child to come to any harm. Unless some unknown eyewitness comes forward, we'll probably never find out the truth.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I also notice the power players in this scenario. It's in the CTA's interest to make it seem as though the mother did something wrong, because the CTA can pollute a jury in the event they get sued. It's in the union's interest to protect their member. So this driver has some heavy-hitters available to protect her, and nobody's doing all this speculation on how exactly a train takes off with a stroller hanging out the side.

    But then there's this mother, who has no government agency to look out for her, no union to look out for her, and here comes the CTA Tattler with the Tribune's media weight to hold a forum on baselessly speculating exactly how she tried to kill her baby, and to concoct evil motives for her.

    Not exactly speaking truth to power, here.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    For the record, I agree with Wendy that this woman certainly never wanted her child to come to any harm. Nor do I believe she pre-planned anything. All I'm saying is her story has some gaps, that hopefully will be filled.

    Once again Tom, you need to lighten up.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I see the Trib lining up with the CTA and the operators union to publicly vilify a woman who just suffered an accident in which her child was nearly killed. I don't want to get to a point in my life where I "lighten up" about that degree of cruelty to a person who - so far at least - hasn't been shown to have done anything wrong.

  • In reply to twestgard:

    The motorman's supervisor is probably more concerned initially with firing the train operator if she was someway responsible to save her own job, hence the quick reaction to take the operator off the job without pay until further notice. No need for evil powerful entities - everyone can be looking out for their own purposes without being malicious.

    We had confusion on here about how this could have possibly have happened as described, and it's probably not unreasonable to figure that the CTA and the union head who implied she was lying really did believe that something doesn't make sense about the physics of this whole thing.

    I'll agree that people (esp the tribune in the two page report in the redeye) make the mother look iffy in this whole thing. But the posts here are still trying to figure out how the hell this could have happened, and assuming people are lying is one way that just seems inevitable (so does a mechanical failure honestly, but the CTA ruled that out and it wouldn't make sense for them to lie about it)

    So yea, while District299Reader presents theories that may hold the mother partially accountable, and Kevin say they are plausible, it doesn't mean anyone has started a witchhunt, just that people are trying to figure out the most likely thing to have happened with what we know.

  • In reply to twestgard:

    I don't care. I really don't. CTA needs to just give a free lifetime pass to the woman and let this thing blow over. It would be different if the baby was actually injured, but since he/she was not injured, there's no harm done. Let's stop trying to assign blame.

  • In reply to ardecila:

    There has to be resolution here that includes a full investigation and most likely blame. There is a chance that the woman risked the welfare of her child to get money out of the CTA. There is also the chance that we have a motorwoman who commited several safety violations and should not be allowed to keep her job for your safety and mind. Giving the mother a lifetime pass and letting it blow over is not an option.

  • In reply to ardecila:

    I'm not sure even after there is a full investigation that most people will accept the conclusions if, as the police are currently saying, the mother's story is credible and no crime was committed. From what I've read so far, I can find possible fault with both the mother's and the operator's versions about what went down. The CTA was quick to put out the possibility the accident never happened, despite the incredibly mismatched set of facts regarding the stroller as told by the operator. After that, all suspicion fell on the mother and the possibility she set this up.

  • In reply to ardecila:

    Without a confession that wasn't beaten out of her, I'll never believe this woman is entirely at fault. I think it's possible she did something stupid that she doesn't want to admit to, but I don't think she put her child in harm's way to collect money from the CTA.

  • In reply to twestgard:

    Think about what you're doing from either the mother's perspective, or from the driver's perspective. One or both are being gutted by the media for having done nothing wrong.

    It is not the case that "all of Chicago" is watching this. This is a non-event to nearly everyone in Chicago, with the exception of a tiny minority of people who are being goaded into saying nasty things about people and events they know nothing about by the media - namely you.

    This mother and this driver don't deserve to be grilled and slandered. Even if one of them did something "wrong" (in whoever's judgment), it's needlessly cruel to use the media to focus on the nastiest rumor anyone can concoct about them.

  • The lawyer handling the case was trying to reap the mum off. That Lawyer will not allow the mum in the court room, he will not allow the mum sign any legal documents he is just doing all by himself without the consent of the mum.

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