Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Scary Escalator Incident Watched by Metro Workers, Most Riders

Illustration. Photo courtesy Wayan Vota

From a 6-year rider from Virginia:
I wanted to offer an account of an incident that occurred yesterday morning about 9:15 a.m. on the platform escalators at Foggy Bottom.

There were two escalators operating the up direction. I was coming up the left one, which was moving normally, when I noticed chaos breaking out on the right escalator.

It turns out someone tried to move an elderly woman in a wheelchair up the escalator. She somehow got entangled with a very large gentleman with a prosthetic leg and crutches.

He fell backward and couldn't get up, and the wheelchair then tipped over backward, causing everyone behind them to pile up.

Someone had the presence of mind to hit the emergency stop.

I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time, so two other Samaritans and I jumped in and helped pull the very large man back up to his feet and get him on his crutches.

He was swearing and upset but apparently unharmed.

We then went back down the escalator and pulled the elderly woman in the wheelchair up to the top.

The large man apologized for his cursing, and the family of the elderly woman thanked us for our assistance.

When I was sure everyone was okay, I went ahead and exited the station.

The most troubling aspect of this?

Two WMATA personnel in reflective vests (presumably the station manager and someone else) stood idly by at the top of the escalator watching three volunteers assist these people and did absolutely nothing to help.

They didn't say anything or do anything at all.

Equally troubling is that on a crowded rush hour platform with hundreds of people around, only three of us took any initiative to assist two disabled people in a very precarious situation.

Had this been a more dangerous event, I shudder to think what could have happened.

Besides the numerous gawkers who just stood around watching, by far the vast majority just pushed rudely past and couldn't even be bothered to stop.

Shame on WMATA, and a big shame on the crass commuters who couldn't be bothered to assist.

I have no idea if the platform elevator was functioning (It was not according to Metro's website.), but given their track record I have my doubts.

Even if it was operational, WMATA could be a lot more proactive in warning people not to take wheelchairs, strollers, etc. onto escalators.

This entire situation should have been avoided had WMATA been better organized or if the station manager ever left their booth and paid any attention to what was going on in the station.
Other items:
Metro breaking down more (Infosnack)
Metro honors dead employees (WMATA)
Metro riders paying for MARC, VRE failures (Examiner)
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