Man in wheelchair dies after 100-foot tumble down escalator at Metro station in D.C.

A man in a wheelchair died Wednesday after he attempted to go up an escalator at a Metro station in Washington, D.C., authorities said. 

The man tried to go up an escalator around 1:30 p.m. at the Columbia Heights Metro Station, a Metro spokesman told NBC 4 in Washington. Security footage showed the man, whose name was not released Wednesday, initially tried to use the elevator.

“A review of camera footage revealed the man waited 10 to 15 seconds for the elevator, which was in service at the time, and then diverted to the escalator,” Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly told The Washington Post

The footage showed that the man tried to steady his motorized chair by holding onto the handrails on either side of him, but the wheelchair tipped backward and fell on top of him, NBC 4 reported

While lightweight manual wheelchairs can weigh as little as 15 to 20 pounds, electric wheelchairs can weigh in excess of 200 pounds, depending on the weight of the motor and other components. 

The Post reported that the victim reached the top of the escalator before tipping over. Fox 5 in D.C. reported that officers estimated the escalator to be about 100 feet long. 

A witness to the aftermath of Wednesday’s accident told the NBC affiliate that several people attempted to help the man, who was lying on the ground, his legs covered with blood. The exact nature of the victim’s injuries were not made public. 

>> Read more trending news

“Several bystanders and the station manager immediately rendered aid until medics arrived,” Ly told the Post. “The man was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased.”

The escalator was shut down for hours as investigators took notes and photos, NBC 4 said.  

The Post reported that while the Metro is considered one of the most accessible public transit systems in the country for people with physical disabilities, the people who must rely on the transit system’s elevators say they often encounter elevators that are out of service. 

Some Metro users voiced that same frustration on social media. 

“Incredibly tragic,” Anthony LaMesa wrote. “This man was likely so inured to #WMATA elevators being broken that he just assumed it would never come.”

Another Twitter user, Christopher Walkup, wrote that D.C. needs to become a more accessible city for everyone. 

A woman responding to a tweet last week about problems within the Metro system wrote about having to be carried up the stairs because the elevator at one station had broken down.

“I had to figure out how to get my wheelchair up & down stairs bcuz no one knew the elevator was broken & knew it wouldn’t be fixed,” wrote the woman, whose Twitter handle is Mama Penguin. “I had to be carried up while someone lugged my chair, just so we could try and find a Metro (with) working elevators late on a weekend. Not that bad my (expletive).”

Another Twitter user wrote that all he sees on Twitter is complaints about how nothing within the D.C. Metro works for the disabled. 

“And now here are your results,” the man wrote, posting a story about Wednesday’s fatal accident.  

Reader Comments

Next Up in Nation & World

Mueller investigation: Michael Flynn sentencing delayed
Mueller investigation: Michael Flynn sentencing delayed

A federal judge agreed to delay sentencing for President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI. Flynn resigned from his post in the Trump administration in February 2017 after serving just 24 days in office. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to...
Donald Trump, Melania Trump pose in official White House Christmas portrait
Donald Trump, Melania Trump pose in official White House Christmas portrait

The White House has released the official Christmas portrait of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. >> Read more trending news  The image was taken Saturday in the Cross Hall on the first floor of the White House. Andrea Hanks snapped the photo, which shows 45 in a tuxedo and Melania Trump in a form-hugging white sequined...
The Trump Foundation: What you need to know
The Trump Foundation: What you need to know

In September 2017, former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an investigation into the charitable foundation "to make sure it's complying with the laws governing charities in New York," Schneiderman said at the time. That investigation began after a 2013 campaign contribution to Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general...
Trump Foundation agrees to dissolve under judicial supervision, New York AG says
Trump Foundation agrees to dissolve under judicial supervision, New York AG says

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said Tuesday that officials with the Trump Foundation have agreed to dissolve the charity under court supervision amid allegations that President Donald Trump and his children used the foundation for personal profit. Underwood said foundation officials agreed to dissolve the embattled charity in a stipulation...
Denver Broncos player Ron Leary pays for layaway items in hometown
Denver Broncos player Ron Leary pays for layaway items in hometown

An NFL player returned to his hometown for the holidays and made a generous gift to customers at a department store. WBRZ reported that Denver Broncos guard Ron Leary covered all the items on layaway at a Burlington store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His foundation, Ronald Leary Reach, partnered with the nonprofit Pay Away the Layaway...
More Stories