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Melissa Strange regrets that she didn’t hold her 5-year-old daughter’s hand as they exited a SMART train in Petaluma.

But as little Josie and her dad and two siblings stepped out of the northbound car on Jan. 6, Melissa, a pediatrician, was doing another motherly thing: checking where the family sat to make sure they hadn’t left anything.

Josie evidently stepped onto the platform, made a quick right turn and fell through the gap between the platform and the car.

“I heard people banging on the train and shouting,” Melissa said. “Then I heard the scream and I knew it was her.”

Melissa was out onto the platform in a flash. Somebody pushed the emergency button by the door, to ensure that the train didn’t start off with Josie down on the track.

A conductor jumped down onto the track level and from the side of the train opposite the platform scooted beneath the car to lift Josie.

Melissa said her daughter was bumped and bruised and frightened, but OK. “She’ll get over it and we’ll eventually get over it,” Melissa said.

She believes that for a 5-year-old to be able to fall between the car and the platform demonstrates a safety flaw.

“I do think the gap is too big,” Melissa said.

She reached out to SMART officials, who responded that the 7.5-inch space between the platform and the cars is standard for the industry.

SMART has said an internal investigation in underway. Just since Josie fell, SMART workers have applied a red stripe along the platform edge as additional warning for people to stay back.

That’s good, Melissa said, “but it won’t keep it from happening again, I think.”

HELLO, GRANDMA? The despicable phone calls that start with that greeting continue to happen.

Often.

Elaine Amato of Santa Rosa tells of receiving two such calls in recent days. She added, “They almost got my mother a few years ago.”

The caller, typically a young man but sometimes a young woman, says something akin to, “Hi, Grandma. This is your grandson. I’m in trouble.”

The crook on the phone hopes the senior will then reveal a grandchild’s name, asking: Is that you, Danny, or Lara, or whomever.

That allows the con man who say, “Yes, it’s Danny,” and then roll out a tale of woe involving a crash or an arrest, and offering instructions for how the caring person on the other phone can wire money.

An arrested scammer told CBS News that about one in 50 randomly phoned seniors would fall for it, and send him money. “You can make $10,000 sometimes in a day if you do it right,” he said.

He suggested that people who receive such a call ask the caller a question that only his or her true grandchild could answer.

Elaine said she asked the most recent “Hello, Grandma” caller his name.

“Michael,” he replied.

“Wrong name,” Elaine told him and hung up.

Every senior who receives such a call must do the same.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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