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Bellevue Square Escalator Accident Investigation May Take Until Just Before Christmas

It could take several weeks to discover what caused the escalator to break apart at the Macy's at Bellevue Square, in a mishap that sent four to the hospital with minor injuries

It could be several weeks -- just before Christmas -- until the investigation is complete on what caused the ground floor escalator to break apart at the Macy's at Bellevue Square Thursday night, a state Labor and Industries spokeswoman said.

Three investigators are investigating the incident at the Bellevue Square Macy's, the site of an escalator malfunction that caused the top of the steps to pile up on the upwards escalator, said Dana Botka, spokeswoman for Labor and Industries, which is in charge of the state escalator inspections and licensing.

Two adults and two young children from two families were taken to Overlake Hospital Medial Center after the upwards escalator broke up around 7:21 p.m. on Thursday. 

One man suffered minor injuries and the rest were taken to Overlake Hospital as a precaution, according to the Bellevue Fire Department.

Bellevue Collection general manager and Kemper Development Senior Vice President Robert Dallain said that the escalator was one of the original ones in the Bellevue Square Macy's, which would have been built in 1982 in what was then The Bon Marche. State records put show the escalator was first inspected in 1983.

"It doesn't mean that it's all original. There are escalators that are completely overhauled since 1983," Botka noted.

The accident happened around the end of the Snowflake Lane show, a short parade of holiday characters and music along Bellevue Way, which is a draw for shoppers and kids.

Twitter user Daniel Kao shared a photo of the malfunction right after it occurred.

According to state records, the most recent state inspection of the escalator occurred in February 2012, which resulted in one correction being required -- a replacement for the light at the bottom of the escalator showing where the steps started. In 2010, inspectors found that the escalator had broken teeth, but that had been repaired by the next inspection, Botka said.

Kemper Development Company spokeswoman Jennifer Leavitt said the mall hopes to replace the escalator soon, but would not have a timeline for repair until it's known what went wrong.

Leavitt said all the escalators in the mall had gone through a comprehensive inspection "very, very recently," and that the escalators are inspected monthly, by the mall's contractor ThyssenKrupp.

Leavitt said that particular escalator is maintained by Macy's, which contracts with Schindler Elevator Corporation.

That particular escalator that broke down on Thursday has had one recorded accident reported in 2010, and the investigation showed it was not the result of the escalator function, state records show, though further information on what happened in that instance was not available immediately.

Another notable escalator accident in Bellevue occurred almost a year ago at Lincoln Square, which is another Kemper Development Company property across the street from Bellevue Square. 

In that incident a 24-year-old man died in the early morning of Dec. 30, 2011, after a three-story fall from the Lincoln Square escalator. The Bellevue Police Department reported that Joel Bush died after he sat on the escalator railing and then fell from the third floor. Bush's death was an accident, police said.

Stephen Liss December 09, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Time to get a new maintenance company, methinks. ThyssenKrupp doesn't seem quite up to the job.

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