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December 26, 1985
Homeless woman found dead in Grand Central Terminal

by Associated Press
An indigent man says police refused his request to summon an ambulance for an ailing homeless woman the night before she died on a bench in the main waiting room at Grand Central Terminal.

"I said, 'Will you do me a favor and call an ambulance for that lady because I don't think she's going to make it through the night,'" Forrest Sheridan said Wednesday. "As far as I know, no ambulance was ever called."

Police found the woman dead shortly after noon on Christmas Day, three hours after they had last roused her from a bench in the cavernous terminal. They said she apparently died of natural causes.

The unidentified woman, about 60, did not ask for help when a Metro-North Railroad police officer awakened her at 9:30 a.m., and she did not appear to require medical aid, said Susan Gilbert, a Metro-North spokeswoman.

She said she had heard of claims that other homeless people had asked for an ambulance for the woman, and said Metro-North would investigate. But she added: "There is no official report of anybody having made the request."

George McDonald, an advocate for homeless people who said he frequents the terminal to bring them food, said Sheridan and another homeless man ne knew only as Ralph told him they had requested an ambulance for the woman.

In a telephone interview, Sheridan said he made the request as police were closing the terminal and moving out the homeless people shortly after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. As the woman lay on a bench, "I walked over to her. I noticed she was shivering and she was shaking," he said.

After he asked an officer to call an ambulance, Sheridan said, "He goes over and bangs the stick beside her head. She just put her head up and put her head back down. He just walked away."

Sheridan said he did not call for an ambulance himself because he was being ushered out if the terminal and into a bus that took him to a city-run shelter.

McDonald said homeless people in the terminal told him the woman spent the night in an adjacent subway ramp. Ralph said he asked police to call an ambulance after the termninal opened at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, McDonald said.

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