According to the Chicago Tribune, two women and one man, all in their 80s, suffered cuts and abrasions during an escalator accident that occurred at 11:08 a.m., Saturday, March 23, 2013 in the Nordstrom department store at the Woodfield Mall.
For an unknown reason, not currently attributed to any mechanical malfunction, the male victim started to fall and attempted to grab his wife to regain his balance. Unfortunately, his wife then fell and toppled onto the third victim. All three victims were taken to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries. A police spokesperson stated that none of the injuries were life threatening, and that police had reviewed surveillance video of the incident. Read the full story at ChicagoTribune.com, published March 23, 2013.
Assuming that there was no specific mechanical deficiency that led to these injuries, this incident highlights the everyday dangers of riding an escalator. Persons with limited mobility, or other conditions that could lead to loss of balance (such as vertigo), should avoid escalators and use elevators instead.
Although many able-bodied people are able to safely ride escalators (and even walk on them while they are in motion without incident), trip and fall accidents associated with escalators are quite common, and unfortunately, they are often more severe than trip and fall accidents involving stairs due to the nature of escalators. Escalators often have sharp, collapsing steps with higher step heights than a comparable staircase. This can also make it difficult for a falling rider to right themselves.
A study published in 2008 found that nearly 40,000 adults age 65 and older were injured on escalators between 1991 and 2005. However, the author of the study also noted that escalator-related injuries still comprised only a small proportion of the total number of injuries to older adults.