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April 11, 2013 at 4:15 PM
A man was strangled in an accident last weekend on a downtown Seattle escalator with several safety-code violations, and the state Department of Labor & Industries is investigating.
Maurecio Bell, 42, of Renton, was found unconscious and unresponsive about 5:30 a.m. Sunday at the bottom of a King County Metro escalator at University Street Station near Third Avenue and University Street, according to the Seattle Police Department.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said that after Bell apparently fell down on the moving escalator, his clothing became entangled in the escalator’s mechanism, choking him to death.
Video of the incident confirms that’s what happened, according to police. They say the King County Metro footage shows Bell, who was later found with an opened bottle of brandy in his back pocket, staggering and then leaning against the escalator wall at 5:19 a.m.
When he was about three-quarters of the way down the escalator, according to the police report, he lost his balance and fell onto his back. During and after the fall, he did not attempt to get back up by reaching for a railing. When he reached the base of the escalator, the back of his shirt was pulled into it.
He then attempted to sit up but was pulled onto his back, the report says.
The first person to see Bell pressed the escalator’s manual stop button, called 911 and performed CPR on him until the Seattle Fire Department arrived, according to police. Medics were unable to revive him, said Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.
“It’s an unfortunate and tragic accident, and we’ve never seen anything like it before,” said King County Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer.
But Labor & Industries says the escalator, which King County Metro contracts with Kone Elevators to maintain, had several safety code violations. Kone could not be reached for comment.
A Dec. 5 Labor & Industries inspection report shows that seven corrections and maintenance practices needed to be fixed by March 27. None of those fixes were made at the time of Bell’s death, according to department spokesman Dave Wasser.
Among the fixes that needed to be made were replacements for all broken combteeth and making a stop-switch cover buzzer operational.
The escalator will remain closed until further notice, Switzer said.
Bell’s death came a day before Labor & Industries announced it had completed an investigation of a Bellevue Square escalator that had 32 code violations. Seven people were injured Dec. 6 in an accident involving that escalator when a skirt panel next to the steps snagged on the moving stairway, jamming it and breaking the escalator chains, according to the department’s report.
The department says the escalator’s safety-stop system also failed and only shut down when someone at the scene pressed the manual stop button.
December 6, 2012 at 8:29 PM
Four people fell when an escalator inside Bellevue Square shopping center malfunctioned tonight, according to the Bellevue Fire Department.
A 30-year-old man, a woman and two 3-year-olds were taken to Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue after the 7:21 p.m. malfunction at Macy’s. The man sustained minor injuries while the three others were taken as a precaution, said Lt. Troy Donlin. He did not know how many people were on the escalator when it failed.
A store manager declined to comment, but an employee said that she heard screaming and saw the escalator coming apart.
An employee at Sanrio said it was the escalator on the street level of Macy’s and that the steps of the escalator were mangled.
“Some steps are not where they belong,” Donlin said, according to an Associated Press report.
A mechanical failure led to the accident, not a structural collapse, Donlin said. He was told by a mall manager that the escalator is regularly checked by maintenance company Schindler, and that they and a state inspector would investigate the cause of the malfunction as soon as possible.
A state inspector from the Department of Labor & Industries also checks the escalator monthly, according to a release from Kemper Development Company, which owns Bellevue Square.
December 30, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Bellevue police are calling the death of a man inside Lincoln Square early this morning an accident.
Lt. Marsha Harnden said that about 1:30 a.m. the man apparently fell from the atrium escalator. According to witnesses and surveillance video from the building, the man was sitting on the escalator’s handrail, Harnden said.
“It would appear to be an accident. I don’t think he realized he realized how high up he was,” Harnden said.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released the man’s name. Police said they are investigating whether alcohol played a role in the accident; the only businesses open inside the building at that hour were bars, Harnden said.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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