Man hurt in escalator fall at Gallery Place station

By Martin Weil and Luke Rosiak
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A 57-year-old man was injured Tuesday evening in a fall at a Metro station after losing his balance on an escalator, a Metro spokesman said.

The man was taken to a hospital with bumps, bruises and apparent cuts after the 7 p.m. incident at the Gallery Place/Chinatown Station, authorities said.

The incident came at a time of heightened concern over the safety of Metro's 588 escalators, which are undergoing brake inspections.

However, Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff said there was no indication that the man's loss of balance and subsequent fall resulted from any malfunction of the escalator. He said the incident would be investigated.

Several witnesses said it appeared that the man might have been trapped in the escalator after the fall. But Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, said there was "no extrication or tech rescue or anything like that."

He said rescue workers found the man with injuries regarded as serious and consistent with a fall down stairs or escalator steps. Witnesses said the man might have been unconscious for a time.

A Metro rider said the accident drew little notice. As rescuers worked on the silent and motionless man, other passengers "were just minding their own business,'' Solange Umwimana said.

Attention was drawn to escalator operation after an accident Oct. 30 at the L'Enfant Plaza station. Six people were injured as a result of what officials said was brake failure.

A subsequent inspection of escalators at at the Gallery Place station, scene of Tuesday's incident, turned up another faulty brake, prompting inspections of brakes on all escalators.

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