King County Metro Transit apologized Thursday to a mom who was asked to leave a bus because of her child's stinky diaper.

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King County Metro Transit apologized Thursday to a mom who was asked to leave a bus because of her child’s stinky diaper.

The woman, Nichole Hakimian, of SeaTac, called Metro to complain after the Wednesday afternoon incident, said Jim O’Rourke, Metro operations manager, who made the apology by phone.

She had taken Sound Transit light rail to Seattle, then switched to a Route 36 bus, which goes to Beacon Hill via the Jose Rizal Bridge, around 3 p.m. At about Eighth Avenue South and South Jackson Street, the bus driver said, “I really can’t tolerate the smell,” and discreetly asked her to leave, according to O’Rourke.

Hakimian told KOMO television Wednesday her son was ill and she was taking him to get medical treatment. She changed the diaper at a small clinic and caught another bus to her destination.

Metro’s operator rule book says drivers may choose to exclude someone who appears dangerous, severely ill, highly intoxicated, or who shows”extreme personal hygiene problems.” O’Rourke said it’s impossible to predict every event drivers encounter.

Nathanael Chappelle, a former Metro Operator of the Year, said drivers might encounter an adult smelling of bodily waste once or twice a week, on the most hectic routes. Compounding the stress of Seattle traffic, operators have to weigh individual rights against the comfort of all passengers, along with the risk of drawing a complaint.

“You’re damned if you do one, damned if you do the other,” he said.

O’Rourke said in hindsight, the Route 36 driver should have asked where the mother and child were going, which turned out to be just two more stops, and taken them that far.

The transit operator, a grandmother, felt embarrassed but will not face official discipline, O’Rourke said. He predicts the notoriety will make other drivers more skittish about asking passengers to leave.

Carla Saulter, who blogs as the “Bus Chick,” said her heart goes out to the mother. Saulter said her son once vomited from motion sickness, but she was able to catch it without contaminating the seats.

“I don’t know what the answer is in that scenario she went through, except for people to have tolerance and compassion,” Saulter said.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @mikelindblom.