Needle pricks Gresham girl riding MAX, family says
A Gresham couple is frantic after their two-year-old daughter pricked her finger on a used hypodermic needle wedged inside a MAX light-rail train.
Elizabeth and Brian Higby say they were riding a Green Line train toward Gateway Transit Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9 when their daughter put her hand in the crevice behind the seat and said "owie." The little girl was sitting in her mother's lap.
"[She] turns around and she's got a syringe in her hand with the needle sticking out of her finger," Brian Higby told KOIN 6 News, The Outlook's media partner. "What just happened? It's so alarming you don't even know what to think."
"I'm thinking AIDS right off the bat, and then Hepatitis and it's almost like getting shot or something," he continued. "It's horrible."
The Higbys rushed to Randall Children's Hospital, fearing that their child had been infected with a blood disease carried by a drug user. Doctors say the chance of transmission is very low, but will perform follow-up tests in the coming months.
A spokeswoman for TriMet says that workers clean all buses and trains at the end of each day. They admit it's not uncommon to find leftover needles and other detritus, but TriMet doesn't track the exact number.
"Anyone may leave an item behind at any time so we encourage all riders to check an area before they or their family members sit down. This is also a good practice anywhere, whether on transit, in a park or any public place," noted TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. "Our staff is investigating and reviewing video of the incident."
As for Higby, he encourages drug users to clean themselves up and be considerate of others.
"If you're that miserable and you have to use, think of others," he said. "Because my daughter — now her life could be changed."