SEPTA: Mom, Grandmom Dodge Fare, Leave Baby Behind

When the women were together at the next station they realized they did not have the baby girl, authorities say.

SEPTA officials say a mother and grandmother left behind a baby girl while trying to avoid paying full subway fare.

Authorities say the incident happened Monday on the Market-Frankford El at the 60th Street station. The baby's 15-year-old mother had a single one-day convenience pass that allows one person to take eight rides.

"Normally the family walks the baby and the mother of the baby to the El," said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel. "She takes the El to school and the grandmother than takes the baby with her. Yesterday the mother was off from school so they were going to visit an aunt."

SEPTA officials say the mother went through the turnstile first and then handed the day-pass back to the grandmother. They then turned at the same time after the teen's 5-month-old daughter was placed at the gate.

"There was miscommunication about who was going to take the baby," said Nestel. "The grandmother thinks the mother is getting the baby. The mother thinks the grandmother is getting the baby. They both turn their backs on the child and walk away, leaving the child behind."

The two women didn't realize they had left the baby until they got to the 56th Street station around ten minutes later.

A cashier kept the baby inside the booth to keep her warm. A supervisor at the scene also contacted the Department of Health Services to check on the child. SEPTA officials say the mother and grandmother frantically returned and were reunited with the child. The women won't be cited in spite of the fact that they were seen on surveillance video trying to evade the fare.

"I think they attempted to avoid the fare but I would still support the fact that they weren't charged based on the circumstances of them leaving the baby behind and the fact that they were frantic about it," said Nestel. "They probably learned a better lesson than us citing them."

Investigators say the women left their purses as well as food inside the baby's carriage and therefore don't believe they intentionally left the baby behind.

"It's been our experience that some people who evade the fare are trying to get on to commit other crimes," said Nestel. "That's not what occurred here. These two ladies were not a jeopardy to any other riders. This was a bad decision on their part that resulted in them leaving this poor baby behind."

Nestel says that if it wasn't for surveillance video, they likely would have arrested the two women.

"The video in this case definitely helped in us deciding not to arrest them," he said. "Had we not had video, they probably would've been arrested and would've had to explain what occurred in court. We adjudicated this by watching the video and matching what we were told with the video."

According to Chief Nestel, fare evasion arrests have gone up 500% within the past year. Those found guilty of fare evasion receive a citation, report to court for a summary violation and pay a $100 penalty.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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