At the end of an unusually cold April day, a distraught woman on a platform calls out for assistance. This is the story of how she came to be there, and of the people who heard her calls.
“Help me. Someone please help me!”
Sitting on a piece of luggage, unable to get up while perched precariously at the edge of the platform at Kitchener GO station, an elderly woman urgently screamed for help.
It was unseasonably cold for April 21, with the wind howling and flurries flying all around her. She was stuck – and she was getting colder by the minute.
Just moments earlier, the last GO train of the night had pulled into the station.
Alone and desperate – and perhaps also knowing this could be her last chance to flag down someone for help – she screamed at the top of her lungs.
GO train engineer Stefano Consiglio, a 13-year veteran with Alstom (formerly known as Bombardier), was just changing ends of the train after climbing out of the locomotive when he heard the woman’scries.
He looked over at his operating partner, GO train conductor Catalin Mincu, and their training immediately kicked in. The two of them rushed over.
“She was very distraught,” said Consiglio. “It was clear she couldn’t stand on her own.”
Mincu stayed with the woman and assisted her to a nearby bench, while Consiglio raced to the locomotive to radio in for more help.
The woman, whose identity we are choosing to withhold to respect her privacy, told the crew she had been sitting on the platform since getting off another train, on her way home from Ottawa.
She said her troubles began after she arrived in Kitchener: an employee with the train carrier she had used apparently indicated to her they weren’t sure where her mobility device – a walker – had been placed. Without it, she was stuck on the platform with no way of moving herself or her luggage.
“She was in tears,” recalled Mincu. “She said the walker was $500 – and she couldn’t pay to have it replaced.”
The two men, along with Customer Service Ambassador Justin Ricciardi, assured the woman help was on the way and they would stay with her until police arrived. They were also able to move her inside the station building to get her warm.
“I am very proud of this train crew for their situational awareness and compassion,” said Bilal Quadri, manager of Customer Service with Alstom. “Safety is ingrained in every aspect of our train crew’s lives. It does not end with operating GO and UP trains safely. If something does not look right, we will investigate.”
Waterloo Regional Police say their officers arrived on scene shortly after, and they were able to get in touch with woman’s family and assist in getting her a ride home.
“In the last year, our crews have been dealing with a lot – but their dedication and willingness to go above and beyond never ceases to amaze me,” said Rob Andrews, director of rail operations at Metrolinx. “We’re very thankful and grateful to this crew for looking out for this woman in her moment of need.”
Reflecting back on the events, Mincu, who’s been working at Alstom for more than six years, said he’s just relieved they heard the woman’s cries for help; since they were the last train of the night, had they not heard her – she could have stayed there for who knows how long.
“Given her situation, she easily could have stumbled onto the tracks and she wouldn’t have been able to get back up on the platform,” he said. “All things considered, we’re all just very glad it ended well.”
Story by Matt Llewellyn, Metrolinx spokesperson and senior advisor, media relations and issues