Escalator Strangling: Seattle Man Killed When Shirt Gets Caught

Friday, 12 Apr 2013 12:14 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A Seattle man was apparently strangled to death by his own ripped-up clothing after he fell on a metro escalator last weekend, according to the King County Medical Examiner's Office.

Maurecio Bell, 42, of Renton, Wash., was reportedly found unconscious around 5:30 a.m. Sunday at the bottom of a King County Metro escalator, the Seattle Police Department said. It appeared that Bell had fallen and his clothing had become entangled in the moving escalator's mechanism, choking him to death. There was reportedly an opened bottle of brandy in his back pocket.

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Police said surveillance footage shows Bell staggering and leaning against the escalator at 5:19 a.m. He lost his balance and fell onto his back when he was about three-quarters of the way down the escalator, but did not attempt to get up. When he reached the base, the mechanism ate up the back of his shirt, strangling him.

"It's an unfortunate and tragic accident, and we've never seen anything like it before," King County Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer told the Seattle Times.

The escalator, which the county contracts with Kone Elevators to maintain, reportedly has several safety code violations, according to the state's Department of Labor and Industries. A Dec. 5 inspection report shows that seven corrections and maintenance practices needed to be fixed by March 27, including fixing a stop-switch cover buzzer and replacing broken comb teeth. None of those fixes had been made at the time of Bell's death, the department said.

The escalator will reportedly remain closed until further notice.

Bell's death happened the day before Labor and Industries released the findings of an investigation into a Bellevue Square escalator that had 32 safety code violations.

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