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. 

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“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.  


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