Wheelchair-bound man dies after tumbling down escalator at DC metro station
A Metro spokesperson said that several witnesses rushed to the man's aid as he fell backward in the wheelchair and landed at the bottom of the escalator
A wheelchair-bound man fell down an escalator and died at Washington, D.C.’s Columbia Heights Metro station on Wednesday, per multiple reports. The victim was attempting to leave the station around 1.30 pm local time when his motorized wheelchair fell after almost reaching the top of the escalator. Despite the paramedics' best efforts, the man, whose identity is yet to be revealed, died at a local hospital.
“A review of camera footage revealed that … the man went to the elevator, pressed the button, waited maybe 10 to 15 seconds for the elevator. Then he decided to use the escalator instead. He wheeled onto the escalator and held onto the handrails...He was critically injured," a Metro spokesperson told People, noting that the elevator was fully functional.
A man in an electric wheelchair tried to ascend up a Metro station escalator, but he fell backward. https://t.co/sf2w8VQ0Ce— NBC 6 South Florida (@nbc6) October 11, 2018
The spokesperson added that several witnesses rushed to the man's aid as he fell backward in the wheelchair and landed at the bottom of the escalator. Investigators were on the escalator for hours taking photos and notes, according to NBC Washington. The escalator is at the station's east entrance, between street level and the mezzanine level.
Speaking to WRC, Shaun Stepney, a witness, said, “I seen the guy laid out. I saw his legs was all bloody. Really bad. I saw about 10 people crowded around him.” However, considering the case is still "pending notification of next of kin," a spokesperson for the D.C. medical examiner's office said they would not reveal the man's identity until it concludes.
Man in a wheelchair dies after tumbling down Metro escalator —— Annie Yu (@AnnieYuFox5) October 11, 2018
An officer estimated that the escalator is about 100 feet long.https://t.co/0DZD2u7nFM
According to WTOP, the man was unconscious when first responders arrived at the scene, authorities said. The station reported that another passenger was also struck by the falling wheelchair and sustained minor injuries. According to The Washington Post, D.C.'s Metro is considered one of the country's most accessible transit services. The elevator availability was at 97 percent between July 2017 and June 2018, per a recent Metro performance report, the Post noted.
That said, some physically-disabled commuters have claimed that they often find elevators at the stations not functioning properly. Quite a few social media users blasted the report, alleging that it is "meaningless" and said that "elevator closures" were "wreaking havoc on lives."