CTA Operator Says She Checked Doors, Didn't See Stroller

Operator has been suspended without pay; Baby Rachel left hospital

By BJ Lutz
|  Tuesday, Nov 3, 2009  |  Updated 9:00 PM CDT
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Couple Describes Baby's Rescue

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Couple Describes Baby's Rescue

Joel and Rebecca Weinberg said they knew something was wrong when they heard a "primal" scream come from a distraught woman.
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The operator of the Chicago Transit Authority train that is said to have left the Red Line's Morse Avenue station with a stroller and baby lodged in the doors told the union that she followed standard operating procedures before setting the train in motion.

CTA President Richard Rodriguez said protocol calls for the operator to check the doors visually to see if anyone is by the doors.  Lights on the car also indicate when the doors are fully closed.

The operator told her union representatives that she checked the doors and never saw a stroller caught in the train, according to CTA spokeswoman Sheila Gregory.

Preliminary tests indicate the the door's sensors, which should cause them to "bounce open" if anything gets lodged, were working properly.

Still, the operator has been suspended without pay while the authority investigates the incident.

Police said the child's 26-year-old mother, Ebere Ozonwu, a Nigerian woman who speaks only scant English, had been pushing the stroller into the train when its doors closed and the train began moving.

The stroller was dragged through the Morse Street station until it struck a barrier and the end of the platform, tossing the baby out.

Baby Rachel was retrieved from the trackbed and taken to the hospital. She was released Tuesday afternoon.

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