The Gap Rears Its Ugly Head Again!

In all honesty this story qualified for the end of my historic entry but I forgot to include it. Instead of ignoring the story, I will give it its own entry. I first heard about this story while watching News 12 Long Island within the last 7-10 days. The story is about transit employee & Iraq veteran Timothy Sample who blames the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) for ruining his health. The story goes back to the morning of April 28th when Mr. Sample fell victim to the gap epidemic which continues to plague the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Here is an article with more details courtesy of Newsday

When National Guardsman Timothy Sample returned home to Hempstead in 2005 after surviving two tours of duty in Iraq without injury, he felt fortunate. Little did he realize danger still lay ahead — or that it would be on a Long Island Rail Road platform.

The 46-year-old city transit employee fell in the gap at the Hempstead LIRR station on April 28, and his health continues to suffer as a result, he said.

Sample, filed a notice of claim against the MTA and Long Island Rail Road Wednesday, charging the agencies with carelessness, recklessness and negligence, said Sample’s attorney, Kenneth Mollins, of Melville. The claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit, also charges the agencies with the “intentional disregard of the dangerous condition that existed and continues to exist for a protracted period of time.”

“He was injured as a direct result of neglect by the railroad,” Mollins said.

Long Island Rail Road spokeswoman Susan McGowan said last night that the LIRR is spending more than $40 million to reduce gaps systemwide and is also promoting safety through its Be TrainSmart campaign.

Sample, who cleans subway stations, was on his way into Manhattan for a conductor certification program on April 28 just before 8 a.m.

As he attempted to board the train at the Hempstead station, his left foot fell into the “huge” gap. A passenger and conductor helped him, he said, and an MTA officer later came and offered assistance. His left leg was bruised and bleeding, Sample said, but he worried about being late for his class, so he didn’t seek further medical treatment.

“I didn’t think that much of it at that point,” he said.

But days later, Sample, who has served in the military for 13 years, found himself unable to get off the couch and delusional with fever. “I couldn’t even get out of my living room, this thing was so bad,” he said.

Sample’s fall in the gap resulted in a potentially fatal condition called rhabdomyolysis, Mollins said. The condition causes muscle fibers to break down and frequently results in kidney damage, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Web site.

Sample, a married father of four, is being treated but can’t work. His kidneys were damaged and he suffers from fevers and severe fatigue, he said.

The LIRR began looking at the danger of wide gaps after a Minnesota teenager died at the Woodside station in August 2006. A Newsday investigation found gaps as wide as 15 inches at some LIRR stations.

Sample said he is upset and frustrated that he can no longer complete tasks as simple as taking out the garbage.

“I’m appalled,” he said. “Here’s a guy who’s been to Iraq … spent several years with the military with no problems, and then I come back and have some freak accident that to me could have been avoided if the Long Island Rail Road took out the right precautions.”

Who knows how much this incident will cost the MTA if Mr. Sample wins his lawsuit. One thing is for sure, they can not get this gap issue fixed fast enough!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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