Shanghai, China – Woman killed by runaway shopping cart on inclined moving walkway

A 60-year old grandmother died Friday, June 21, 2013, after a runaway shopping cart struck her at high speed while she was riding an inclined moving walkway at the Lianhua supermarket in the Jiading district of Shanghai, China. Surveillance video of the incident depicts the victim calmly disembarking the moving walk and turning around in the split second before the runaway shopping cart struck her fatally, suggesting that the victim heard the cart careening out of control, even though it was too late for her to get out of the cart’s path. According to the report by STOMP, a Singapore news agency, the runaway cart belonged to two men who had loaded it with 15 crates of drinks, estimated to have weighed 330 pounds (150kg), who boarded the moving walkway moments before losing control of the cart. The victim was reportedly thrown almost 20 feet (6 meters) from the point of impact. She was transported to a nearby hospital but succumbed to her injuries. Local police are investigating the incident.

While somewhat uncommon in the United States, inclined moving walkways are often used in airports and supermarkets to transport people between floors with the capacity of an escalator and the convenience of an elevator (namely, that people can take along their suitcase, shopping cart, or baby carriage). Typically, the carts at locations with inclined moving walks will remain under control using an automatic brake that is applied when the cart handle is released, or via strong magnets in the cart wheels that stay adhered to the ramp surface. However in this case, the recklessness of the two patrons to use their own cart, which they also overloaded, apparently led to this woman’s untimely death.

Also of note is that the surveillance video depicts that the moving walks in this incident were continuously sloped. In the United States, moving walkway treadways are limited to inclines of 12 degrees at any point, and 3 degrees within 3 feet of the landing. Had the slope tapered at the bottom landing, it might have provided the victim an additional split second to avoid the careening cart. However, clearly in this case the reckless loading of an unsafe cart appears to be the prevailing causative factor.

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