Details still unclear in CTA stroller accident

November 5, 2009 2:58:10 PM PST
There are new questions about an incident involving a CTA train and a stroller holding a toddler.Police say they now have physical evidence from the scene.

There are a number of aspects to this story - pieces of the puzzle - that don't seem to fit.

Police are working it as a non-criminal investigation. They have some physical evidence, but they don't yet have eyeball witnesses who actually saw what happened, and on an early evening Red Line run, police presume there had to have been witnesses.

If the stroller was caught in the door, the door should've opened - or at least it's designed to do so. The CTA says preliminary tests on the train car in question showed the doors were working properly. Transit union officials say the doors show no damage.

On the wooden platform at the Morse stop, there are no discernible marks that one might theorize would have been left by a stroller being dragged outside the train.

The stroller itself - in a picture released by the union - doesn't appear to be badly damaged, but it is a lightweight, collapsible stroller, and it's not clear how or how much of it was stuck in the door.

"She appears to be very credible," said Lt. Dennis Walsh, Chicago Police.

Police say they believe the mother's account of what happened, and they have some physical evidence to support it.

"There's paint from the rail on the south end of the train tracks that's on the stroller," said Lt. Walsh.

That paint would have come from a barricade at the end of the Morse train platform indicating that the stroller hit it. The 22-month-old child who was not seriously hurt was pitched to the ballast below before her mom and a man who raced to help lifted the infant to safety.

But if the stroller was hanging outside the train, how did it avoid smashing into a similar barricade at the next station? And most perplexing, the stroller was eventually pulled inside the train, and recovered, without great damage, several stops later. Police believe someone at some point pulled it inside the train.

MEINCKE: "Do you know who that person is who moved it inside the car?
WALSH: We have an idea. We're continuing our investigation in that direction."

There is a police pod camera directly across from the Morse station, but the train would've blocked its view of the incident.

The train operator remains suspended without pay which is standard CTA procedure but union leaders have long objected to that practice as tantamount to "guilty till proven innocent."


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