Kids left stranded as train pulls away

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - DAMIAN GE­ORGE

A Porirua mum on an out­ing to Para­pa­raumu was sep­a­rated from two of her young chil­dren when a train’s doors closed be­fore she could fol­low them on to the plat­form.

Lau­ren Petersen, of Whitby, fran­ti­cally pushed the but­ton to open the doors, but noth­ing hap­pened, and the train started to pull out of Pare­mata sta­tion on Mon­day evening.

Five-year-old Chelsea and 3-year-old Zara were left stand­ing alone on the plat­form as Petersen and 1-year-old Ge­or­gia headed for the next stop at Porirua.

She pleaded with a Tran­sDev staffer to stop the train, but says he told her ‘‘I’m sorry’’, be­fore rac­ing to the front of the train.

Petersen took the chil­dren for a school hol­i­day trip to Para­pa­raumu on Mon­day last week. When the 5.20pm ser­vice from Waikanae got back to Pare­mata, she told Chelsea and Zara to get off first.

‘‘I pressed the but­ton to open the doors and said, ‘Hop off, girls’, and they took a big step.

‘‘They stepped out and then the doors started to shut on the front of my pram.

‘‘I tried to press the but­ton to open the door but it didn’t do any­thing, and the next thing the train starts to move.’’

In panic, she looked for an emer­gency stop but­ton but couldn’t find one.

She begged the train staffer to stop the train.

‘‘The first thing I said was, ‘You need to stop the train’. I said, ‘How the f... did you let this hap- pen?’, then I ob­vi­ously broke into tears and started shak­ing.’’

Once the train got to Porirua, the staffer of­fered to find out when the next Pare­mata-bound train was due, but Petersen called po­lice in­stead, who were able to check on Chelsea and Zara through cam­eras.

A po­lice spokes­woman con­firmed a call was re­ceived about 6pm.

‘‘Traf­fic op­er­a­tions cen­tre cam­eras were able to be utilised to sight the chil­dren on the plat­form, the sta­tion’s CCTV who it ap­peared were be­ing looked af­ter by a mem­ber of the pub­lic,’’ the spokes­woman said. ‘‘A po­lice ve­hi­cle was dis­patched to the sta­tion but was stood down as the mother ar­rived first.’’

A stranger who saw the in­ci­dent and got off at Porirua gave Petersen a ride back to Pare­mata.

Tran­sDev spokes­woman Emily Lid­dell said it ap­peared the train was in­cor­rectly given the all-clear to leave the sta­tion.

‘‘There were other pas­sen­gers dis­em­bark­ing at the sta­tion. I be­lieve the staff mem­ber thought the chil­dren were with their par­ents, and they gave the right of way to say pas­sen­gers were clear of the door.’’

The er­ror would be fol­lowed up by the com­pany, Lid­dell said. How­ever, she be­lieved the cor­rect pro­ce­dure was fol­lowed, as the staff mem­ber im­me­di­ately alerted Tran­sDev’s con­trol cen­tre, which mon­i­tored CCTV cam­eras.

Petersen de­scribed the in­ci­dent as ‘‘prob­a­bly one of the worst ex­pe­ri­ences of my life’’.

PHOTO: MONIQUE FORD/ STUFF

Lau­ren Petersen with daugh­ters, from left, Chelsea, Zara and Ge­or­gia.

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