A terrifying moment happened at the downtown Petaluma SMART train station in California early this month when a 5-year-old girl slipped and fell into the gap between the train and the platform.
Officials say that as the train doors opened, the little girl got off before her mother, and walked along the yellow strip and fell into the gap. The mother, Petamula resident Melissa Stange was horrified. She recalled: “Somebody screamed that somebody had fallen underneath the train. And once I heard her scream, it’s one of those things where you know your own children.”
One passenger had the quick thinking to hit the emergency brake, which stopped the train from going forward. A conductor then jumped down onto the tracks to save the girl.
Strange could only be thankful as she shared: “The conductor went under the train and pulled her out. And then she handed her to me.”
Strange, a pediatrician, said her daughter was a little banged up, but doing fine.
An internal investigation into the incident and the safety measures of the train will be undertaken.
Strange’s concern is that the gap is just too large. She wants an outside agency to investigate and that changes be made. She has another suggestion: “I think the train needs to stop service until they can fix that problem. It’s the same as if a bridge has a problem. Don’t say there’s an issue with a bridge and then, ‘ oh, we’re going to let people go across the bridge until it’s fixed. You shut it down, assess for safety, fix the problem and then get up and running again.”
SMART spokesperson Jeanne Belding says the gap is “within all the requirements.” She adds that it meets all the standards. She also says they have level boarding located right near the door of the train.”