A 22-year-old Connecticut woman died Monday after falling down a flight of steps while attempting to carry a stroller in a Midtown subway station.
Malaysia Goodson was pushing the stroller with her daughter Rhylee, 12 months old, when she got to the steps at the 7th Avenue station at 53rd Street. The station, like many in New York City, does not have elevators or escalators, according to The New York Times.
Goodson picked up the stroller, began walking down the stairs, and tumbled onto the subway platform just before 8 p.m. The child survived the fall, but Goodson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Shams Tarek, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, called the death “a heartbreaking tragedy” and told The Times the agency would work with police to look into the incident.
About a quarter of the MTA’s 472 stations have elevators, and most are often out of order. One survey of subway elevator breakdowns found that, on average, each elevator breaks down 53 times a year, an average of once a week.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio tweeted about Goodson’s death and the lack of accessibility in Subway stations, and used the moment as a rallying call for the MTA to add more elevators to the city’s subways.
This is a heartbreaking tragedy that never should have happened. The subway system is not accessible for everyone and that’s an environment the MTA should not allow. https://t.co/X89fQep0LY
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 29, 2019
A 2017 lawsuit filed against the transit authority described New York’s subway system as one of the least accessible in the country and accused the agency of violating the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
By comparison, the subway systems in nearby Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. have far more working elevators and escalator than New York. The case, which was joined by the Justice Department in 2018, is still active, according to Disability Rights Advocates, which is representing the plaintiffs.
“The lack of accessibility in our subways is literally killing people,” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted. “I am heartbroken by this tragedy, and am keeping this family in my thoughts. NYC must do more for families and the disabled.”
A GoFundMe campaign raised nearly $6,000 in six hours.