The Seattle Times and Q13 FOX News are reporting an escalator malfunction in the Macy’s at Bellevue Square shopping center, in Bellevue, Washington.
According to the Seattle Times, “Four people fell when an escalator inside Bellevue Square shopping center malfunctioned tonight, according to the Bellevue Fire Department. A man, woman and two 3-year-olds were taken to local hospitals 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 Bellevue Fire spokesman Troy Donlin.”
According to Q13 FOX News, the state inspectors have been notified about the incident. The cause of the incident remains unclear at this time. Interestingly, both articles include a photo posted on Twitter by an apparent witness. That photo, which was allegedly taken immediately after the incident, clearly depicts the escalator with some of its steps removed, a bystander at the top landing actually holding a step, and with bystanders crowding around the broken escalator. A stroller is seen laying on its side at the top of the frame, behind a crowd. The articles note that a 3-year old was hospitalized as a precaution after the accident, however, it was not clear at the time of writing whether the stroller was involved with the accident.
Escalators are required to be equipped with numerous safety switches that detect potentially hazardous conditions and safely stop the escalator to prevent injuries and equipment damage, for example, a comb impact device, which detects when a step is impacting the comb teeth at the landing.
On December 7, 2012, Bellevue Patch published an article with some additional information. According to that article, the Macy’s was built in 1982 and the escalator was first inspected in 1983. The violation history for the escalator was apparently rather tame, citing only burnt out demarcation lighting and broken comb teeth over the last two years. Both violations are extremely common and not necessarily indicative of anything. That article also notes that Schindler was the escalator contractor at the time of the incident.
The Patch article also notes that the ground floor escalator, which was apparently running in the up direction, malfunctioned “[causing] the top of the steps to pile up.”