Three-year-old Riley Carey-Brown “cannot stop laughing” over how MBTA workers rescued her beloved stuffed animal bunny from the tracks of an Orange Line subway station in Jamaica Plain during rush hour on Wednesday afternoon, according to her mother.wrote about the ordeal on her blog “Life with Roozle,” which chronicles the lives of herself, her wife Michelle, 38, and - the star of the website - their daughter Riley, whose nickname is Roozle.
On Wednesday, the parents picked their daughter up from school. Amid some nice weather after a dreary stretch of cloudy, rainy days, they opted to take the subway home instead of traveling by car, their usual routine.
Near the end of the train ride on the way back to their home in Jamaica Plain, Riley’s world turned upside down for a few scary moments.
As the family exited the subway car at the Green Street Station, Riley’s stuffed animal bunny, named “Nummy,” fell between the train and platform, landing on the tracks below.
The train was packed. “Everyone saw it. You could hear this huge gasp,” Casey said by phone Thursday morning.
The first stuffed animal Riley ever had in her crib with her, the first stuffed animal she had ever named, was gone. Riley wept and screamed inconsolably. Her parents were panicked, but had virtually no hope anything could be done.
Casey found an attendant on the upper floor of the station. It was 5:30 p.m. on a weekday.
“I really expected her to say: ‘No, I’m sorry. It’s rush hour. There’s nothing that can be done,’” Casey said. “And, that would be the end of the story.”
But, the woman, an MBTA customer service agent, calmly radioed to a T colleague. Casey said she was not quite sure what was happening.
But, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said that in those tense few moments the customer service agent radioed dispatcher Rhiannon Bernier, who relayed a message on to another T employee, Frank Limone. He was operating the next outbound Orange Line train headed for the stretch of track where Nummy lay helpless.
As Riley and Michelle waited in the upstairs lobby, Casey followed the attendant back down to the train platform. She saw the next subway car had entered the station, but stopped about half way from pulling up to the front of the platform.
And, then she saw Nummy “carefully placed” without a mark or scratch on the yellow-striped edge of the platform. The train driver, Limone, had stopped the busy train, hopped out and retrieved the stuffed animal.
“I told them ‘no problem,’ and I got out and got it.” Limone said.
He said normally when he is asked to fetch something off the track, it is a cell phone or a shoe, but doesn’t mind getting something for a child.
“He sat it down super cute on the platform,” Casey recalled. “We were totally shocked that they were able to do what they did. They certainly didn’t have to.”
The mother reunited Nummy and Riley and the family repeatedly thanked the workers in the station.
Bernier, the dispatcher, said that: “Kids are good at holding on to what’s important to them so that when they do drop it you know you have to get it,” she said. “As a mother, my 6-year-old has about 900 stuffed animals that are his entire world.”
Riley took Nummy to school again on Thursday. She has promised to hold on to her tighter.
“[Riley] can’t stop laughing about it,” Casey said. “She told her friends, her teachers at school. She fell asleep talking about it last night.”
Jonathan Davis, the T's acting general manager, said in a statement, that “these helpful and compassionate T employees demonstrated what public service is all about,”
Ironically enough, just before the family’s subway ride, Riley had told her parents that “that Nummy was a little scared of the train and she needed to tell her it was OK, trains aren’t scary,” Casey wrote on her blog.
The toddler’s parents bought that stuffed animal for her when she was one month old. They chose it in part because it would be easy to buy another if lost, Casey explained.
“I’ve always contemplated buying a backup one,” she said Thursday.
But on Wednesday, she had learned that, for Riley, there is no replacing Nummy.
Before the stuffed animal had been rescued, “I told her, ‘it’s ok, I can buy you a new one.’ She said, ‘You can’t. Nummy’s my friend.’”
E-mail Matt Rocheleau at firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail Alli Knothe at email@example.com.
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