Infant survives as mother dies in fall down NYC subway stairs

A young mother from Connecticut died Monday night when she fell down a flight of subway stairs -- while carrying her 1-year-old daughter -- at a station in Midtown Manhattan.

Malaysia Goodson, 22, of Stamford, died on the platform at the station at 7th Avenue and 53rd Street, New York's ABC affiliate reported. Police investigators told the news station Goodson was carrying her daughter, Rhylee, when she fell, but the infant was not injured.

A stroller was found near Goodson’s body, but it was unclear if the baby was in the stroller when the fall happened. Investigators believe she may have been trying to carry her daughter and the stroller separately.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told the news station the fall may not be what killed Goodson.

“While the cause of death is pending in this case, we can state that there is no significant trauma, and this fatality appears to be related to a pre-existing medical condition,” Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The New York Daily News reported Wednesday that Goodson's death has led to protests by accessibility advocates outside the subway station, which does not have an elevator. The newspaper reported that only about a quarter of the city's 472 subway stations are accessible.

A December 2017 study found that the elevators in those stations that are accessible break down an average of 53 times a year.

Several politicians, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, spoke out against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority following Goodson’s death.

“This is a heartbreaking tragedy that never should have happened,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “The subway system is not accessible for everyone and that’s an environment the MTA should not allow.”

The agency is currently the subject of two lawsuits involving its lack of accessibility. A federal lawsuit accuses MTA authorities of failing to keep its elevators in proper working order.

The agency is in the middle of settlement talks in a state lawsuit that alleges the lack of elevators is a violation of the city's human rights law, the Daily News reported.

"There is no reason why 100% of the MTA subway system should not be accessible," Dustin Jones, a disability advocate and plaintiff in the federal lawsuit told the newspaper.

Jones said he typically relies on police officers, firefighters or strangers to help carry him and his chair up and down subway stairs at stations without elevators.

Subway riders also shared their own experiences trying to maneuver the stairways with children in tow.

"I almost slipped last week on a subway step while I was carrying my grandson," Antoinette Carter said outside the Union Square station. "Trying to carry a stroller up and narrow set of stairs is not comfortable. It's not safe."

Pat Foye, president of the MTA, vowed in a statement to expedite efforts to add another 50 accessible stations to the current 118 under the agency’s next capital program.

"Over the course of five years, we will ensure that no rider is further than two stations away from an accessible subway and the ultimate goal is to maximize system accessibility after 15 years," Foye said in the statement.

The statement described Goodson's death as an "absolutely heartbreaking incident," according to ABC7.

"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 statement said.

Goodson, who grew up in New York but moved to Connecticut with her family nine years ago, was described to The New York Times as a doting mother. Her cousin, Ronshuana Anthony, told the Times that Goodson's daughter was the light of her life.

"Malaysia just gave so much of herself," Anthony said. "She'd give her last breath to her if she could."

Rhylee is now in her father's custody, ABC7 reported. Former employers of Goodson's have set up an education fund for the girl through GoFundMe that, as of Wednesday evening, had raised more than $14,000. 

The youngest of four children, Goodson was protective of those she loved, her brother, Dieshe Goodson, told the news station.

"I'm going to be honest, I don't know what to do," Goodson said. "She was my best friend."