1:45 P.M. Update:

Metro continues to investigate the accident that injured five people on an escalator at L’Enfant Plaza on Tuesday morning, sending three commuters to the hospital following a situation one rider described as “utter chaos.”

Shortly before 8:30 a.m., a woman was heading down to the station’s lower levels with a mid-to-large-sized bag that got caught in the panel running alongside the escalator steps, said Dan Stessel, the transit agency’s chief spokesman.

Part of the bag “got caught in a seam between two panels” and a panel partially detached, Stessel said.

Metro’s information thus far is based on reports from witnesses, including some of the people who were injured, he said.

Ronnie Quzack, a commuter who took the escalator just moments before other riders were injured, said she moved past the partially detached panel while riding down to the lower level.

“As soon as we got to the bottom, we heard all the commotion and turned around.. . .and that’s when people started tumbling down,” said Quzack, a Department of Commerce employee commuting downtown from District Heights.

The piece of metal, which is about eight feet long, was flopping back and forth on the escalator steps “like a loose garden hose,” Quzack said.

Five adult riders were injured, according to Metro. Three of them were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while two commuters declined any medical assistance.

At least one woman suffered a gash on her leg, and people didn’t realize her injury until they pulled another rider off of her, Quzack said.

The escalator will remain out of service until it’s inspected, according to Stessel. “But at this point, we don’t have any reason to believe that there was anything mechanically wrong with the escalator,” he said.

Original Post:

Five people were injured on a Metro escalator at L’Enfant Plaza this morning. A rider’s bag or clothing appears to have caught on a side panel of the escalator shortly before 8:30 a.m., causing the panel to detach and commuters to fall, said Dan Stessel, Metro’s chief spokesman.

None of the injuries are severe, but three of the five riders were taken to the hospital, Stessel said. The other two were treated at the scene.