An 82-year-old woman has died following an escalator accident at the MBTA State Street Station in Boston. According to initial reports, the woman fell on the escalator and her clothing became entangled in the machinery.
The accident is being investigated by the MBTA, the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety, which is in charge of escalator inspections, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
According to news reports, the woman, who was traveling to an eye appointment on the MBTA, was riding the escalator up from the platform. She was near the top of the escalator when she apparently fell, and her clothing became tangled in the escalator machinery. News reports also indicate that she suffered a heart attack, but it is not clear whether that heart attack was before or as a result of the accident.
MBTA escalators have been the cause of accidents and wrongful death in the past. An East Boston man died on an MBTA escalator when his sweatshirt hood got caught in an escalator in Cambridge. A three-year-old boy suffered severe leg injuries on the old Aquarium Blue Line stop’s escalator in Boston. Several people were injured in a Back Bay escalator accident when the escalator suddenly stopped, hurling the passengers down the stairs. The Aquarium T escalator, and the escalators at Back Bay have frequent scenes of accidents.
Escalator inspections are conducted by the state each year, and the escalator involved was reportedly also inspected each week and maintained on a monthly basis. The record of this escalator has not yet been made public.
Common Causes of Escalator Accidents
Escalators are large powerful machines, and riders take for granted that they are designed and maintained for safe operation. Some types of escalator accidents are common, however.
- Missing teeth in the comb plates cause entrapment of shoes with severe foot injuries
- Contact with the side of the escalator can cause injuries to feet and legs when body parts get caught. These injuries are most common in children
- Sudden stops caused by machinery failure can pitch riders down the the metal stairs
- Sudden speeding-up or slowing-down can also cause people to fall on escalators
- Entanglement of clothing in gaps in the machinery can involve shoe laces, clothing, backpacks, and even shoes themselves. For example, there has been an increase in accidents reported in children wearing Croc rubber sandals.
Thousands of people are treated each year for escalator injuries and deaths, many of which result of the negligent maintenance of escalators, or the defective design of the machinery itself.
Woman dies in MBTA escalator accident, Boston.com, February 24, 2009
Escalator Safety, Consumer Product Safety Commission
Crocs Can Pose Danger on Escalators, CBS News