For some reason, escalators have always made me nervous. They're like revolving stairways of sharp metal teeth just waiting to snag unsuspecting mall shoppers and subway riders. Sounds crazy, I know, but it turns out escalators really can kill: A 42-year-old man died on Sunday morning when his shirt got caught on an escalator in a Seattle bus terminal and strangled him. Tragically, by the time police and medics arrived, Maurecio Bell couldn't be saved.
How does something like this happen?! According to Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Switzer, “[Bell] appears to have lost his balance toward the bottom, and at the point where people are stepping off the escalator, he was laying flat. His clothing became entangled in the escalator."
Police couldn't say whether or not Bell was intoxicated at the time of the accident, but he was reportedly carrying an empty bottle of brandy.
What a tremendously horrible way to die. And the most horrible thing about it is that it sounds like it could have been prevented: An inspection of the escalator by the Department of Labor and Industries in December found seven safety concerns which were supposed to be fixed by March 27, 1013. The list included:
Making the stop switch cover operational, making the demarcation lights operational, replacing all the broken combteeth, updating the maintenance records, performing a step/skirt index performance test, installing a data plate on the exterior of the unit, and performing an annual clean-down and testing.
None of the seven safety concerns had been addressed at the time of Bell's fatal accident.
A police investigation is currently underway. But whether or not Seattle Metro Transit is held responsible for Bell's death, what happened to him is a cautionary tale: Stay alert when riding escalators, hold on to your kids, and watch out for any loose clothing that might get snagged.
Do escalators make you nervous?
Image via ABCNews