After a young Connecticut mother fell to her death on a subway station staircase while carrying a stroller with her child inside, advocates are speaking out about the accessibility of New York subway stations.
Malaysia Goodson, 22, was found unconscious in a 53rd Street and 7th Avenue subway station Monday night alongside her 1-year-old daughter, who was not injured. The mother fell carrying the stroller down the stairs and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The particular station doesn’t have an elevator.
“It’s really sad and awful. I think especially because it was preventable,” said Christine Serdjenian Yearwood, the Founder of UP-STAND, an organization focused on advocating for transportation accessibility to accommodate families. “I think everybody who has been a caregiver or a parent knows that this is a struggle. It’s not a new issue.”
Although it is still being determined whether Goodson fell due to a medical issue, the incident pushed MTA accessibility issues to the forefront, causing politicians to speak out.
“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,” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the MTA told the New York Times that Goodson’s death is a “heartbreaking tragedy” and said they are working with police. They also noted “how important” it is to improve accessibility.
Of the 472 stations in the city, only about a quarter have elevators, according to the paper.
“The subway system is not accessible for everyone, and that’s an environment the M.T.A. should not allow,” Mayor Bill de Blasio also tweeted.
Last year, U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman filed a suit against the MTA for failing to make its newly renovated subway stations accessible to the disabled, citing that the association was violating the American With Disabilities Act. The case is still open.
“I think everyone is well aware that there are dangers traveling on public transit because of its inaccessibility,” Yearwood told InsideEdition.com. “I don’t think it’s been made a priority up this point by the MTA. "I think people do try to help each other and they try to be careful and safe. I think there need to be institutional solutions put into place. We need to do better.”
The MTA reportedly plans to roll out the “Fast Forward Plan” which aims to “ensure that riders will never be more than two stops away from a station with an elevator.” The plan also seeks to install elevators at 50 subway stations in the next five years.
“We believe this is an important issue of practicality and equality, and once accomplished, riders will never be more than two stops away from a station with an elevator," the MTA said in a statement to Pix 11.
Authorities are still investigating Goodson’s cause of death. Law enforcement said Tuesday, however, that the young mom probably died from a medical episode and not the fall itself, the New York Post reported.