The security footage is almost surreal.
An escalator, one of the more innocuous-seeming modes of transportation, opens like the Earth above a fault line, and swallows a young Chinese mother in the blink of an eye. In an act that can only be described as an extreme example of maternal devotion, Xiang Liujuan (the mother in question) was able to save her son from harm in the brief window of time she was afforded to react. As the mechanisms holding the floorplate atop the escalator failed, and the once sturdy metallic platform ceded into an abyssal maw, Xiang thrust her child to safety, sacrificing herself in the process. It was a touching but tragic moment, horrifyingly witnessed not only by the security camera from which the footage was recovered, but by her young son Tongtong, and her husband whom, off-camera, saw the tragedy unfold. Xiang’s husband “almost collapsed” at the sight.
Evidently, Xiang Liujuan was only notified that the escalator was broken when she was already halfway up—having missed posted signs that suggested it was out of order. Apart from the signs, the escalator appeared to be in proper working condition. From what can be seen on the security footage, there were no obvious external defects that would’ve warded away passengers or alerted users to danger, if they were to have missed the warning posts.
In the bone-chilling conclusion of the video, Xiang is swallowed into the underbelly of the escalator’s truss. For hours afterwards, rescue workers tried desperately to extricate her in time, but were unsuccessful. This terrifying incident is part of a larger problem in China. Recently, escalator malfunctions have caused multiple injuries, including an incident in Shanghai where 13 were hurt and another accident in Beijing that cost a young boy his life.
A longer security cam feed seems undeniably to assign culpability to the escalator maintenance workers who, prior to the accident, could be seen testing the escalator’s landing pad and exposing dangerous flaws, but refusing to subsequently close off the area. They were then late in warning Xiang Liujuan of the deficiencies, a tardiness that could be seen as directly causal of her demise. This is a strong indictment. Certainly they could be seen, at least, as professionally negligent or, worse, as even malfeasant in their inability to take the steps necessary in avoiding this death. Had they opted to take a more cautious route, had they erred on the side of being safer rather than sorry, then Xiang Liujuan might still be alive today. This is the role and responsibility maintenance workers the world over are tasked with, to utilize their expertise and proper judgment in assessing the safety of a given scenario.
Lapses in judgment like this can have fatal results.
Escalator Facts and Escalator Injury Statistics
- There are approximately 33,000 escalators operating in the United States of America.
- An escalator is a continuously-moving stairway, power-driven by an internal motor. Over short distances, an escalator is sometimes more practical and thus preferable to an elevator because it can quickly shuttle large groups without needing to stop, restart, or change directions.
- Charles D. Seeberger is largely credited as inventor of the escalator, and his first prototype was displayed at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.
- Though they are outnumbered drastically by elevators, escalators have a much higher injury ratio. You’re about 15x more likely to be hurt on an escalator than you are to be injured in an elevator.
- The elderly are particularly susceptible to elevator injuries, due to the fact that they are generally frailer and less well-balanced than younger folk.
- Children under the age of 19 are also a high-risk group for escalator injuries.
- Escalator injury statisticians have divided injuries into two categories: Those that occur on the escalator itself and those that involve a passenger falling over the side of an escalator’s handrail.
Kaplan Lawyers PC
Have you or a loved one been injured by an escalator? They are certainly more dangerous than they appear. And when they are malfunctioning, it is the duty of the escalator’s proprietor to hire the proper mechanics, follow the proper safety protocols, and quickly rectify the situation. In the meantime, it’s also their duty to cordon the escalator off, so that unsuspecting pedestrians don’t wander into harm’s way. If you believe you’ve been injured due to the negligence or malfeasance of a storeowner, or the powers that be in charge of a mall, office building or other large structure, then it may be within your rights to sue. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we can help you win compensation that will ease the burden of your medical bills, and will try to reimburse you for the physical and emotional anguish that you’ve been forced to endure. If you’re unsure as to where you should begin, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC today. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started.