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Bus rider's nightmare

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A Ridgewood woman who was kicked off a city bus when she was gravely ill due to a mini-stroke is now preparing to sue New York City Transit.


Rafaela Santiago, 54, was heading home on the Q58 bus from Main St. in Flushing on Nov. 21 about 6:30 p.m. when her vision became blurry and she vomited, she said.


Moments later, the bus reached a stop where the driver told everyone to transfer onto the next bus because he had to take the vehicle back to the depot, Santiago recalled.


But she was in no shape to go anywhere and pleaded with the driver to call an ambulance for her, she said.


"He said, 'Put on your jacket and get out,'" said Santiago, who works at Flushing Hospital. "I fell on the seat and started vomiting in front of him."


Santiago, a mother of four, said the driver dropped her off on Grand Ave. - on a night of near-freezing temperatures. She stumbled into a nearby nail salon when she started feeling numbness in her hands.


"My speech was starting to slur," Santiago said. "I didn't know what I was saying."


The owner of the salon, Best Nails, confirmed Santiago's story. "She came in really sick," Kil-Soon Kim, 50, said through an interpreter. "And we called an ambulance."


Santiago wrote to New York City Transit to tell the agency about the incident and to track down the driver. But the agency has sent her two conflicting replies. In a letter dated Jan. 8, President Howard Roberts said that a record of the incident was put in the bus driver's file.


A second letter on Jan. 16 said the agency couldn't find the driver because Santiago didn't write down his badge number.


"All New York City Transit operating personnel are expected to be courteous and professional at all times, and are held accountable when they do not abide by these guidelines," customer service representative Antonio Ligonde wrote in the Jan. 16 letter to Santiago. "Unfortunately, in the absence of a bus or badge number, we are unable to identify the bus operator for questioning and appropriate further action."


Santiago was taken by ambulance to Wyckoff Hospital, where she was treated for what doctors termed a ministroke. She has spent thousands on medical bills because she wasn't insured.


Santiago, who has a son in the Army and is raising a foster child, said she is puzzled by the driver's behavior.


"How do you leave someone out in the cold when they are sick?" she asked.


Santiago's son is incensed that the bus driver is still on the job.


"My mother could have lost her life," said Jose Melendez, 32. "I only have one mother. He could have called an ambulance."


BY Brendan Brosh


February 16th 2009

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Me, too.

I remember when I was (2) train when someone vormit but got off before people could call for help and T/O called dispatcher and he closed only front car.

I also remember when M60 bus shortly left CTB and near Airport Shuttle Bus Stop, someone vormit and driver stop and passenger rush out already before he could call ambulance.

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This is unacceptable. Supposed the lady was having a full stroke. By time you would have kicked her off the bus, she could have probably be gone. I'm disappointed.


And we wonder why we do the things we do to bus drivers these days.


I couldn't agree more. There's probably no jury on God's green earth that would rule for the MTA.

Granted, bus drivers have a hard job and all, but they aren't above a teaspoon of human courtesy.

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He should have called 911/ asked for another bus, asked all the passengers to leave out the back door, put the bus OOS, then waited till she was assisted by EMT to leave. Hoesntly i think that's what 99% of bus drivers would do. No one's perfect or ever will be. Sad story. She should get lifetime free rides.


- A

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