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Malaysia Goodson, 22, died after falling down the stairs in a New York City subway station on January 28, 2019. Police said she had been trying to maneuver the stroller, with her baby daughter riding inside, down the stairs when she fell. Her daughter, Rhylee, survived.
The subway station in midtown Manhattan did not have an elevator. Goodson’s death has prompted fresh calls for the city to increase safety measures and install more elevators.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Police: It’s Unclear Whether Malaysia Goodson Had a Medical Emergency or Died From the Impact
Investigators are working to determine what caused Malaysia Goodson to fall. According to the New York City Police Department, it was not immediately clear whether Goodson suffered from a medical emergency, or whether she died due to the fall itself.
Goodson fell at the subway station located at 53rd Street and 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Officials told WNBC-TV that the stairs and the railing appeared to have been in good condition.
Goodson fell around 8 p.m. on January 28, 2019. She was found unconscious and pronounced dead at Mount Sinai West Hospital. Police said she was clutching the stroller. It’s unclear whether she had been trying to carry the stroller or push it down the stairs. Rhylee was treated at the scene and is reportedly doing fine.
2. Malaysia Goodson’s Brother Described Her as a ‘Playful’ & “Protective’ Person Who Enjoyed Cooking
Malaysia Goodson was the youngest of four siblings. Her brother, Dieshe Goodson, described her to WABC-TV as a very protective person and that she was like his twin. “I’m going to be honest, I don’t know what to do. She was my best friend.” He said she was “playful” and enjoyed cooking for the family.
Goodson’s brother told the TV station that baby Rhylee was being taken care of by her father. He added that Rhylee’s father and his sister had been on “bad terms,” but that he was also “devastated” by her death.
Goodson spent her childhood in New York City. Her mother, Tamika Goodson, told the New York Times that the family moved to Stamford, Connecticut when Malaysia was in middle school. Her high school guidance counselor told the newspaper that Malaysia was a “sweetheart” with a “tough shell.”
3. Goodson’s Death Prompted Calls for Increased Accessibility at Subway Stations; the MTA Says Adding Elevators is a Key Priority
Malaysia Goodson’s death has focused attention on the lack of elevators at New York City subway stations. City residents often see parents struggle to carry strollers, or other heavy objects, down the stairs, often while surrounded by large crowds.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway system, issued a statement following Goodson’s death. It reads:
“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 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. This will be accomplished through the addition of up to 50 elevators over 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.”
There are nearly 500 subway stations in New York City. According to the New York Times, only about 25 percent of them have elevators. The newspaper also cited a 2017 survey that found that these few elevators are often unreliable. Each elevator reportedly breaks down at least 50 times each year.
The MTA has faced lawsuits over the past few years over the lack of disability access at subway stations. A group of disability advocates filed suit in 2016. The United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York also filed a lawsuit in March of 2018. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at the time that there was “no justification” for failing to abide by regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
4. Malaysia Goodman’s Mother Started a GoFundMe Campaign to Help With Funeral Costs
Malaysia Goodman’s mother, Tamika, started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her daughter’s funeral.
She wrote on the page, “Malaysia “LayLay Bang” was a fun-loving person. She was protective of her family, especially, her one-year old surviving daughter. She was adored by many and loved tremendously by her family and friends. She is gone way too soon but will never be forgotten.”
5. New York Officials Called Goodon’s Death ‘Heartbreaking’ & Called for Change in the Subway System
New York officials including city Mayor Bill de Blasio took to social media after Malaysia Goodson’s death. It will remain to be seen whether the rhetoric will lead to actual change in the city’s public transporation system.
De Blasio wrote on Twitter, “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.”
Corey Johnson, the NYC Council Speaker, wrote, “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.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office told reporters that the MTA needs to “make accessibility a priority.”