NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) – Riders are demanding answers after a malfunctioning escalator threw passengers backwards and shredded their limbs at the MBTA Back Bay Station Sunday night.
The Commuter Rail dropped off hundreds of passengers who had been at the Patriots-Saints game in Foxboro, including visitors from New Orleans. As they rode up the escalator to street level, the escalator suddenly began running in reverse, witnesses said.
“It just started going backwards. It’s almost like someone flicked a switch and started going backwards at warp speed,” said visitor Claire Maia.
The escalator riders tumbled backward, where the escalator continued to grind them, riders and witnesses said. Sara Aucoin, who was also visiting from New Orleans, was deeply gashed by the stairs.
“I was bleeding. Everyone was bleeding because as the escalator was falling,” Aucoin said “It was grinding us. It was literally like shredding us. It was awful.”
“It was a scene out of a horror movie,” said Staci Teadt, who ran to help the wounded. “That’s the only way I can describe it – there was just blood everywhere.”
At least nine people were taken to the hospital, and this is not the first time the escalators at Back Bay Station have malfunctioned. In 1996 a belt snapped and hurt at least 20 and in 2011 an escalator suddenly stopped with people on it.
The MBTA contracts with a company named KONE to inspect and maintain the escalators, and the fault escalator was issued an inspection certificate on July 30, 2021. In a statement, KONE said “We are working closely with the MBTA and other appropriate authorities to gather the facts and determine what may have caused the incident that occurred at the Back Bay station Sunday, and our thoughts go out to those who sustained injuries.”
More recently, the MBTA said the escalator underwent regular routine maintenance on September 7 which involved checking for basic operation.
Maia said she is five months pregnant and got off just as the escalator failed. She wanted more answers about why the escalator malfunctioned.
“Why wasn’t this checked into? This is something that people use every day. It could have had extremely catastrophic effects to me and my family,” Maia said.
Those affected say they are still shaken up, but thankful the outcome was not worse.
“The steps just plummeted. It was really similar to the Tower of Terror in Disney. That’s really the only thing I can equate it to because it was a free fall,” Aucoin said.
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