2006_08_ruler.jpgAfter news that an 18 year old died after falling betwen an LIRR train car and platform (she was killed when she rolled over to another track where a train was approaching), our readers debated whether or not gaps between a train car and platform were the responsibility of the rider to mind them or the train company to make sure the gaps were smaller. And there was some confusion as to how an adult could slip through an 8 inch gap. Well, Newsday sent out their reporters armed with tape measures, and found that a gap at the Woodside, Queens station where Natalie Smead died are up to 11 inches, and there are gaps of up to 15 inches at other LIRR stations, such as Syosset. Fifteen inches - you might as well call that a moat. Today, Newsday has anecdotes from LIRR riders who have fallen in the gap. Here's one that's a little disturbing:

Chris Ingram, of Smithtown, was 6 and on a first-grade field trip in 2000 when he fell through a gap as he stepped from a Smithtown LIRR platform onto a train. "The next thing I knew, I was on the ground and the wheels of the train were right next to me," Ingram, now 13, said. He was yanked by a class mother from the rail bed with scrapes and bruises. The parent saved him after seeing the tips of his fingers sticking up through the gap as he yelled for help.

The LIRR says it uses bridge plates to help wheelchairs go over the gap, but using them for all passengers would cause delays, so they opt for an "education program." Well, maybe it's time to Hmm - maybe the program needs to be much more prominent. There are videos on the LIRR websites for train evacuation and crossing the railroad tracks safely, but nothing about avoiding huge platform gaps.