Sunday, July 20, 2003

MISSING: PARENTING SKILLS? A 9 year old Philadelphia boy managed to find his way to Upper Darby over the weekend, causing a massive search throughout the city. At around 8:20pm Saturday, Asher Twine slipped away from relatives in Germantown and boarded an R-8 Chestnut Hill West train (believed to be the #1860 CHW to Fox Chase) en route to 30 St Station. A SEPTA employee reported seeing the child in the station later that evening, however police were not able to find him there. The child was later spotted at the UA movie theater complex on S 69 St in Upper Darby, having apparently taken the El to 69 St Terminal. A movie patron reported the child to authorities, who later placed him in a foster home in Chester.

This is not the first time that young Asher Twine slipped away on an adventure. His mother told 6 ABC:

"The Fourth of July he slipped away in a crowd that was headed downtown for the fireworks and he got caught at 30th Street Station."

6 ABC also reports that Asher Twine suffers from autism, but it didn't specifiy the severity.

Okay, three questions: (1) Wouldn't some red flags have been raised among the train crew on the #1860 after seeing a 9 year old riding alone on a Saturday night? (2) Wouldn't somebody at either 30 St or even 69 St Terminal have had the same thoughts, assuming the fare was not paid? (3) Why the hell were the parents paying better attention as to where their son was (see the P&W tragedy last month, when the mother was reportedly surfing the internet while her 4 year old son was struck by an inbound P&W train)?

(On a side note, when I was much younger - about 13-14 - and living in New England, I'd occasionally ride the T into Boston and spend a little time riding the subway system when I spent time with my aunt in Lincoln - whose condo was near the Lincoln Rail Station on the Fitchburg line. Of course, I was a little bit older than Asher Twine, and didn't spend too much time that my mother or aunt would've called the state police. At the same time, I was once able to bike about 12-15 miles between Nashua and Manchester; now I can barely ride 1-2 miles without feeling pain in my legs. All of this was about 15 years ago, in case anyone was asking...)

It's fortunate that Asher Twine is still alive. Could you imagine the PR nightmare SEPTA would've faced if this child ended up falling into the El tracks or was struck by an R8 train (to say nothing of the harsh criticism of the parenting skills by Mr. and Mrs. Twine)? Considering that we're talking about an autistic 9 year old, I'd suspect that would require far more supervision than was apparently provided this past weekend.

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