Horrifying: Train drags toddler in stroller, spits child onto tracks

Just saw this horrifying report on the Trib’s Chicago Breaking News site:

Screaming “the train took my baby,” a mother watched in horror as a CTA train pulled away from a North Side station with her baby and stroller stuck in the doors.

The train dragged the stroller until it hit a barrier at the end of
the Morse station and the 22-month-old girl flew onto the tracks,
missing the third rail, police said. The mother jumped onto the tracks,
scooped up her child and handed her up to someone on the platform, he

The baby was uninjured. “A CTA spokeswoman could not say how the train was able to pull out of
the station with the doors not closed. She would only say the incident
was being investigated.”

Filed under: CTA in the news, CTA safety

Tags: CTA, safety


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  • Kevin:

    Could you confirm something with your CTA contacts. It was my understanding that train operators were required to be looking out the cab at the doorways/platform until the doors were closed...has that policy changed?


  • In reply to KevinB:

    Kevin, that most certainly is the case - that the operators are supposed to look out, make sure doors are closed, and then proceed.

  • In reply to KevinB:

    I'm not arguing the fact that a train operator should be looking down the line to make sure nobody is in the doorway as the doors close but I'm trying to understand the physics of this.

    a) Mother huffing it to beat a train, child in stroller not restrained (which I read somewhere prevented more serious injury).
    b) Mother runs across platform and as front wheels of strollers cross threshold, doors close and train starts to move.
    c) Kiddo (the true innocent here) is carried along in stroller caught in doors but bc Mom can't keep up or lets go of stroller, tumbles out as stroller tips and dumps out the child onto the platform surface.
    d) For this to occur, only a small part of the front wheels could be stuck in the door which implies two things:
    1) Operator started to shut doors and nobody was in between a car and platform but perhaps didn't keep their eyes on the doors before moving on.
    2) Mother saw the doors closing and tried to rush it by using her stroller as a wedge to keep the doors open. I've seen this before with or without strollers.

    Does anyone know if this platform has cameras? That would be interesting to see. The CTA will of course be sued but is the train operator is 100% at fault - is there any personal responsibility that the mother has here? I guess if the operator was watching the entire time, it wouldn't have happened but still, as a cautious person, you have to assume the other person isn't always going to follow through with what they are supposed to do (ala 4 way stop signs, pedestrians in crosswalks, cyclists observing traffic laws) - it's just the way things have become.

    Maybe they'll put back into effect the rule about collapsing strollers on the bus and train. If that rule had been in place, the situation wouldn't have happened (well the stroller would have been toast but at least the kid would have been safe).

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    Never mind - no video and looks like the kid ended up on the ground not on the platform. If the stroller was retrieved a few stops later, sounds like the Mom got more of the stroller in than I initially thought. I still think there was some carelessness on the part of the mother but that is one very lucky kid.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    WGN TV news stated that this was subject to further investigation, because (as 20fie indicates) the stroller was found 4 stops further south.

    Also, I thought that at least since the Rachel Barton incident, train doors had to have devices to keep them from closing if there was an obstruction. Besides the operating having to check the side of the train, it there any indication whether the doors of CTA trains operate in that manner and malfunctioned in this case?

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    They may be required to keep an eye out, but I have often seen them keep an eye out until they hit the button, then start walking back to the cab.
    If this operator did that, then probably never saw the woman trying to shove in at the last minute.
    The mother isn't blameless in all this (if the doors are closing, accept taht you missed the train), but it is fairly clear that the operator wasn't following procedure.
    I wonder though that no one informed the operator that there was an abandoned stroller in their car? No one hit the red button to notify the driver of the issue?
    At 6:30pm there still should have been people in every car of that train.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    I have a few comments:

    1)I didnt know a train can swallow a toddler yet alone spit one out on the tracks as the title suggests.

    2) Are CTA passengers not looking out to what is going on? Were there passengers in the car when the mother tried to enter through the closing doors? If so why did none of them use the emergency button and talk to the motorman.

    3) I have read the motorman was not aware of the incident until several stops later. If the stroller did not fall out of the doors after leaving Morse, what happened to it and why didnt the mororman see it stuck in the doors at the next stop?

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    The story, updated as of 2:01 p.m. indicates that some of the questions we raised, including mine about the "sensitive edging" are being investigated.


  • In reply to 20fie18:

    It's cut and dried for me. The operator did not do his job, period!
    If he had, there would have been no incident.


  • In reply to KevinB:

    Did anyone (beside the mother) actually see this happen?

    "Witnesses" heard yelling and came back up to the platform to see what happened. Nobody was quoted as actually having seen the incident.

    I'd love to hear from some corroborating witnesses. It's very similar to recent stories about baby strollers on trains platforms. Is there a trend?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    Channel 7 just had a couple of witnesses, including a woman who heard the mother scream, and her husband, who went onto the tracks and retrieved the baby.

    So, while the investigation reports raised some doubts in my mind, there are at least witnesses.

  • In reply to jack:

    It doesn't sound like they were witnesses to the actual incident.
    Sounds like they are the same couple who are quoted in the Sun-Times and Trib stories today. According to those stories, it seems like they were witnesses only to the aftermath, but not what happened when the train was pulling out and the stroller was allegedly stuck in the door.

    And it also sounds like their story might be changing a little too. According to your cited channel 7 report, the husband/witness went on the tracks and retrieved the baby. According to the Trib, the mother jumped down to the track level and retrieved the baby. A minor inconsistency, but when one thread unravels.......of course, it could easily be reporter error, too.

    I just find it peculiar that no one on the platform or train reported seeing anything.

  • In reply to jack:

    Really, this sounds like a scam. I doubt the baby was ever on the tracks. Think about the mechanics of a baby flying through the air and ending up, behind the train, on the tracks. I'll give you a hypothetical scenario. The mother holds the baby. A confederate walks onto the train with the empty carriage. The train pulls out, screams, etc. The 'rescuers' show up. A few stops later, the confederate pushes the carriage out of the train and walks away. Balloon Boy anyone?

  • In reply to jack:

    Can we see photos of the stroller? I want to "SEE" if the stroller hit one of the gates located on the far end of the station. Plus if its' an umbrella stroller, the door would've folded or bent the stroller...

  • In reply to jack:

    Plus TiredOTired's story seems credible.

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