Malaysia Goodson, the 22-year-old mom who fatally fell down a flight of stairs in a New York City subway while trying to carry her toddler and a stroller, may have also suffered a “medical episode,” PEOPLE reports.
Goodson pushed a stroller with her daughter Rhylee, 12 months old, to the steps at Midtown’s 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.
Authorities now believe Goodson may have had a health complication that caused her death, not the fall.
“It may have been a medical episode,” an New York Police Department spokesperson told PEOPLE. “There’s no indication that the fall may have caused her death. But we can’t know for sure until the [medical examiner] lets us know.”
“While the cause of death is pending in this case, we can state that there is no significant trauma, and this fatality appears to be related to a pre-existing medical condition,” Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
However, the mom’s death has prompted a push for a more accessible transit system.
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
“This is a heartbreaking tragedy that never should have happened,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted on Tuesday. “The subway system is not accessible for everyone and that’s an environment the MTA should not allow.”
Goodson cause of death has yet to be determined but her family told the New York Post that she had an existing thyroid issue and was experiencing headaches.
“I don’t know, maybe she was starting to feel faint,” Goodson’s mother, Tamika Goodson, told the Post.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said on Facebook, “The lack of accessibility in our subways is literally killing people. I am heartbroken by this tragedy, and am keeping this family in my thoughts. NYC must do more for families and the disabled.”
MTA released a statement to WPIX about Goodson’s tragic death and vowed to address the accessibility issue.
“This is an absolutely heartbreaking incident. While the ultimate cause of the event is being investigated by the MTA, medical examiner, and the NYPD, we know how important it is to improve accessibility in our system,” the statement reads.
“The Fast Forward Plan acknowledges and prioritizes this work as one of four key priorities, and aims to ensure that riders will never be more than two stops away from a station with an elevator.”
A GoFundMe campaign raised $20,000 of a $100 goal in two days.