Police are investigating an escalator strangling death that took place in Washington state when a man riding the escalator fell off and had his clothing caught in the mechanism.
Maurecio Bell, a 42-year-old who was at the Benaroya Hall Metro Station, was found dead early Sunday morning. The King County medical examiner’s office ruled that he choked to death when he became entangled in the escalator.
Police found video of the escalator strangling death, confirming the medical examiner’s findings. They said the footage shows Bell staggering and then leaning against the escalator wall at 5:10 am. As he was nearing the bottom of the escalator, he lost his balance and fell onto his back, where he continued to lay without trying to get up or reach the railing.
As the escalator reached the bottom, the back of Bell’s shirt was pulled into the machinery, choking him. Bell tried to get up at this point but was pulled back down, police said.
A witness found Bell and pressed the escalator‘s manual stop button and tried to perform CPR. The Seattle Fire Department showed up, but medics were unable to revive him.
The report noted that an opened bottle of brandy was found in Bell’s pocket.
“It’s an unfortunate and tragic accident, and we’ve never seen anything like it before,” said King County Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer.
The Washington Department of Labor & Industries is looking into the escalator strangling death to see just how Bell’s clothes got caught in the machinery.
The day after the escalator strangling death, the Washington labor agency announced that it had completed an investigation into another escalator in Bellevue Square where seven people were injured in December. Officials found 32 code violations.
It appears the escalator strangling death could have been prevented as well. An inspection report from Labor & Industries found that seven corrections and maintenance practices were needed on the escalator by the end of March, but they were never corrected by the time of Bell’s death.