The shocking death of a young Connecticut mom in a Midtown subway station tumble — a tragedy whose cause remained unclear — on Tuesday intensified calls for more elevators throughout a system with an alarming deficiency.
Family, friends and co-workers were left to mourn Malaysia Goodson, 22, and wonder exactly what transpired Monday evening in the B/D/E station at 53rd St. and Seventh Ave.
“She was protective of her family,” her brother Dieshe Goodson, 23, told WPIX. “You could tell she was very protective. She died trying to protect her baby.”
The Stamford, Conn., woman was carrying several shopping bags along with a stroller holding her 1-year-old daughter Rhylee when she fell down the steps around 8 p.m. The tiny girl was found uninjured near her mother’s body after the fall, police said.
While the city medical examiner said Tuesday the cause of death was “pending determination,” police sources indicated it could not be ruled out that the fatal plunge was precipitated by a medical issue.
“It’s still very preliminary,” a high ranking police source said of the probe. “We’ll have to look at video. It looks like the woman was holding the baby in her arms and then carrying a stroller. The stroller was found toppled over next to her at the bottom of the stairs.”
Others pointed to the dangers inherent in the simple act of entering or exiting the city’s sprawling subway system — especially for the disabled and those with young children in tow.
“Elevators are honestly very accommodating, but there’s stations without them…I mean, everyone has kids,” Brittany Jones, 24, told the Daily News. “Every station should have them. As a mother with a stroller, there’s risks every day.”
Ben Fried, spokesman of the Transit Center, a research group that released an accessibility report titled “Access Denied,” said the city has to “build a subway system that really lets people use transit the way they want to. That constituency includes people like Malaysia Goodson, and the system really failed her.”
According to Fried, New York has “the least accessible major subway system in the nation.”
A mere 25% of the city’s subway stations are accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act — 118 out of the 472 stations, according to the latest MTA numbers. In contrast, the Boston subway compliance rate is 71% and the Chicago subway figure is 69%, the Transit Center report showed.
City officials lashed out at the lack of subway station accessibility as well, with Mayor de Blasio tweeting Tuesday afternoon: “The subway system is not accessible for everyone and that’s an environment the MTA should not allow.”
Added New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: “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.”
One-time New Yorker Goodson moved to Connecticut about nine years ago, and graduated from Westhill High School in 2015. She was the youngest of four kids.
“This is an absolutely heartbreaking incident,” said a statement from the MTA. “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.”
Her badly shaken colleagues at the Building Blocks Early Learning Center hope to raise money to establish an education fund for little Rhylee.
“Malaysia Goodson passed away tragically on Monday night,” read a statement posted on the business’ Facebook page. “… Malaysia and Rhylee were a part of the Building Blocks family for almost 2 years and we would like to do what we can to help support Rhylee during this very difficult time.”
Goodson was unconscious when first responders arrived, and her daughter was miraculously uninjured.
Fellow straphangers sprinted upstairs and urged a station agent to call for help, with first responders arriving too late to assist the woman.
The young mother died a short time later at Mount Sinai West hospital.