Investigators say escalator that hurt 7 at Bellevue Square was not maintained

by: Alison Grande Updated:

BELLEVUE, Wash. - A scathing report Monday by the Department of Labor and Industries said the escalator malfunction at Bellevue Square that injured multiple people in December could have been avoided.

 Labor and Industries said Schindler Elevator Corporation failed to maintain the escalator inside the Macy's store, causing the collapse.

 Seven people were injured Dec. 6, 2012, when the escalator started to crumple and the metal stairs came apart.

See photos of the collapse

 The incident happened shortly after the holiday celebration Snowflake Lane ended and the escalator was crowded with shoppers.

 Sally Davidson was on the escalator with her 3-year-old granddaughter.

  "It sounded like someone was throwing garbage containers off the top of the building.  It was crashing, noisy metal,” said Davidson, who was two-thirds of the way up the escalator. "We looked up and the steps started folding and that's when we got out of there as fast as we could."

 Davidson and her granddaughter weren't hurt, but the riders at the top of the escalator were.

 Thang Vu, 38, who suffered the worst injuries, hurt his foot and shoulder.  His 2-year-old son hurt his back and five more people were treated.

 Labor and Industries found 32 code violations on the escalators inside Macy's, with 15 of those violations on the escalator that failed.

 Kemper Development, which owns Bellevue Square, issued a statement Monday.

  "We are extremely disappointed to learn about the number of violations outlined in the L&I report issued this afternoon." 

 Since the accident, the escalator remains blocked and has not been repaired.

 Labor and Industries has launched a larger investigation into Schindler Elevator Corporation.

 Davidson said she still thinks about the incident and often chooses to take the stairs instead. 

Schindler Elevator gave the following statement to KIRO 7:

"Schindler regrets whenever an incident occurs on equipment it maintains and takes its compliance obligations very seriously. We are currently reviewing the State's report and aggressively pursuing our own investigation with the assistance of internal and external experts in the subject areas.  At this point, we do not believe Schindler's maintenance of the escalator caused the incident, which involved the use of at least two strollers on a 1980 third-party unit and other complexities that warrant further examination.  Nevertheless, we are committed to productively working with the State to properly address this matter and believe it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the State's specific findings until our own investigation and review of the report is complete.  As a leader in the elevator and escalator industry, the safety of the riding public is always a top priority for Schindler and it will take whatever actions may be necessary or appropriate to properly address this unfortunate incident."