Detectives investigate escalator death at downtown Seattle tunnel

Updated:

SEATTLE -  Seattle police are investigating an escalator death at a downtown Seattle Metro tunnel.

 The incident happened at the University Station on Third Avenue and Seneca Street around 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

 Police spoke with a witness who said a man was on his back and was apparently caught on the escalator stairs and base. When he approached the victim, he noticed he was unconscious and unresponsive.

 The man placed his backpack under the victim’s head to prevent further injury and tried to pull him from escalator.

 When the man realized he couldn’t free the victim, he pushed the emergency stop on the escalator and called 911.

 Medics performed CPR on the man, but he could not be revived.

 According to police, they found alcohol in the man's back pocket.

 Seattle police said the death was accidental.

 The medical examiner identified the victim as 42-year-old Maurecio Bell of Renton.

 The Department of Labor and Industries is working to find out if the accident could have been prevented.

 Records show L and I inspected the escalator in December and warned Metro to make repairs by the end of March.  Labor and Industries said the repairs weren’t made. Metro claims repairs were in progress.

 “This is a tragic accident. We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Jeff Switzer with King County Transportation. “We’re working closely with L and I to try to understand what happened here.”

 Investigators will try to determine if the accident could have been avoided and whether a lack of maintenance could have contributed to the fatality.

 The incident made bus rider Dionysius Newyork nervous.

  “When you’re going up or down on the escalator it should be  safe. If your own clothing gets caught in there, they should really take more precautions than that,” said Newyork.

 “They should probably put warnings or have some kind of maintenance,” said Grace Bae, who uses the bus tunnel regularly.

 The escalator will remain closed until all repairs are made.  Labor and Industries will inspect the escalator before it reopens.