A malfunctioning three-story escalator at Scotttrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri left 13 people injured last week as they were leaving an NHL Blues hockey game.
The down escalator leading out of the Scottrade Center was packed with people last Thursday when, according to witnesses, the bottom steps collapsed. The escalator sped up and then suddenly slammed to a halt.
There were 13 people injured, and five were taken to a local hospital. Although rescue workers had to cut some trapped passengers free of the mangled escalator, none of the injuries were serious, St. Louis Fire Department officials said.
It is unclear what caused the escalator collapse at this time. Officials from Missouri’s elevator safety unit said the escalator was inspected in August and was found to be in working order with no violations. Inspectors said they will investigate the accident and try to determine the cause of the escalator’s failure and the state fire marshal has also decided to look into the accident.
Captain Bob Keuss of the St. Louis Fire Department told local media that it appears that the rails on the side of the escalator which support the steps collapsed and caused the steps at the bottom of the escalator to buckle, but it is unclear why those rails failed. Some witnesses say that the escalator came to a sudden stop because a passenger at the top hit the “emergency stop” button when they saw there was a problem, which may have prevented more serious injuries from occurring.
Similar escalator accidents have occurred in the past at other sports arenas and stadiums In 1994, 43 fans were injured in an escalator accident at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, when an overcrowded escalator to the upper-deck jerked backwards, throwing passengers to the bottom landing. More recently, at a Colorado Rockies game in 2003 at Denver’s Coors Field, dozens were injured due to an escalator malfunction that was blamed on overcrowding and a disconnected or missing safety switch.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are approximately 30 elevator or escalator deaths and more than 17,000 serous personal injuries each year. Elevator accidents are the more common cause of the reports, accounting for nearly 90% of the deaths and 60% of the reported incidents where passengers suffered a personal injury.