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Queens Chronicle

Bus driver injured my daughter, mom says

W’haven resident files complaints with MTA, cops over alleged door slamming

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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:30 am

A Woodhaven woman has filed complaints with the Police Department and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, alleging that a Q53 bus driver repeatedly and knowingly slammed the door on her 5-year-old daughter.

Now little Jazmin is recovering from multiple bruises on her leg and is afraid to ride the bus, according to her mother, Ashley Barraza, who wants the driver fired and arrested and is eyeing further legal action against him.

Barraza said she, her sister and Jazmin were trying to board a crowded northbound Q53 at Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue at around 3:50 p.m. April 10 when the incident occurred.

The bus looked filled but the driver was still letting people on when they tried to board. Barraza had her daughter go in front of her, and as the little girl was getting on, “the driver decided to close the door, smashing my daughter repeatedly,” Barraza alleges.

“He didn’t even bother opening the door fully to see if there was anyone in the way,” she said in the complaint she filed with the MTA and sent to the Queens Chronicle. “I then announced that my daughter was in the doorway and still he continued to slam the door a few more times on my daughter.”

The driver allegedly then blamed Barraza for trying to “have your daughter on the bus like that” and cursed at her.

Barraza, who said she was unable to get the driver’s badge number but can describe him in detail, said she then took her daughter to a hospital emergency room, where she was advised to keep Jazmin off her leg as much as possible.

“Because of this incident my daughter is terrified to ride on another bus,” she told the MTA. “I want this man fired and arrested.”

She continued, “I’m sure this isn’t the way the MTA trains their employees to treat their customers.”

The agency told Barraza it would take four to six weeks to process her complaint, she said.

And, she alleges, the police at first were reluctant to take a complaint at all.

The first time she went to the 102nd Precinct, she said, an officer told her she did not have enough information to file a report. She returned to insist on making one and said she was told by another cop that she couldn’t because it was a civil matter between her and the MTA.

But she left her contact information, and on April 17, another officer called to invite her to make a complaint and, she said, apologize for his colleagues’ “confusion.” The officer characterized the incident as reckless endangerment of a child, she added.

The MTA Bus Co., which handles the Q53 route, could not immediately comment on the case. A spokesman for Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents the line’s drivers, said he had not heard of Barraza’s claim and could not address it specifically. But, he said, “If an employee is called in for interrogation that could lead to discipline, a union rep goes with the worker. If the workers is hit with a discipline, the union represents him/her through the arbitration process, if it’s not settled prior.”

Barraza said she is also seeking an attorney so she can take legal action against the driver, but has not yet found one willing to handle the case because the injuries were not severe. She added that ever since the state made it a felony to assault MTA employees, they seem to think they can say and do whatever they want.

“I just want justice for my daughter,” Barraza said.

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