PORTLAND – TriMet is investigating an incident Saturday in which a MAX train left a station with a toddler on board, separating her from her father who was still on the platform.
Background: 2-year-old separated from dad on MAX
Kevin James and his 2-year-old daughter were quickly reunited, but TriMet’s Bekki Witt said Sunday the agency is trying to figure out exactly what happened.
James blames the train's operator, saying the operator was not paying attention and took off down the track, even though he was hard to miss as he tried to load a bike trailer.
“You're not paying attention when you're not seeing the flag, you're not seeing the trailer. And you're not paying attention when the people are waving their arms frantically to the driver, like ‘stop.’”
Even though he had pressed the emergency stop buttons on the side of the train, it kept going.
“Part of their protocol is to check their mirrors before they leave the station,” Witt said.
“The door buttons can work,” Witt explained, “but if the operator is ready to leave the station and may not have seen what's going on—or there was a separation—then they will pull out of the station and move to the next one.”
In November, 2009, a train operator was fired for causing a father-and-son separation.
Video: Nov. 20, 2009 MAX operator fired after boy separated from father
Witt said TriMet will investigate the incident before making any judgments, but offered a couple reminders in the meantime.
“The doors are not going to smash or pinch an arm,” she said.
And she added, “We do not allow those trailers onto our vehicles. They're cumbersome. They take time, obviously, to get on and off.”
James said there remains a big problem, even though he and his daughter were quickly reunited.
“Happy story in the end, but still there's a big gap that I think TriMet needs to look at because it's happened before.”
More: TriMet riders say some drivers ignore emergency alerts
TriMet hopes to review surveillance video of the incident Monday or Tuesday, and will tap into the train's on-board records to determine whether driver error or mechanical error led to this incident.