Riders contradict Metro escalator accident reports

Paul D. Shinkman, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – As Metro continues to investigate an accident on an escalator at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station Tuesday morning, it remains unclear specifically how five people were injured.

Spokesman Dan Stessel says a customer was dragging a “mid to large size” bag on the escalator’s metal panel side skirt around 8:40 a.m. Tuesday.

The bag snagged, causing the panel to rip off the escalator and strike several people. Five were hurt and three were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“That’s not what they’re designed for,” Stessel says of the escalators. “The bag got caught in a seam between two panels, and the customer then tried to pull the bag, and ultimately pulled the entire panel off.”

However, one woman who says she witnessed the incident tells WTOP the piece of metal was already loose and came off after digging into a woman’s leg, tripping her and causing a chain reaction on the moving escalator.

“People started screaming and a women’s leg had gotten caught,” says D.C. resident Rachel Frankel, who contacted WTOP and says she witnessed the event from the platform. “As she walked by down the escalator, the metal got caught in her leg and tripped her.”

The woman fell and caused other Metro riders to fall. She and another rider got deep gashes in their legs, Frankel says.

“I didn’t find it surprising that someone got hurt because it was clearly a hazard that was sitting there,” she says.

Frankel says she and another rider pushed the emergency stop buttons at the base of the escalator.

She didn’t see any Metro employees, so she contacted Metro Transit Police.

Frankel’s story is confirmed by at least two other riders via Twitter: