Escalator’s ‘kinetic motion’ trapped boy’s fingers

Boy, 2, lost two fingers on escalator at Washington Square Mall

Sign at the entrance of the Washington Square Mall located on SW Washington Square Road, August 20, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Sign at the entrance of the Washington Square Mall located on SW Washington Square Road, August 20, 2014. (KOIN 6)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The investigation report into the escalator accident that severed the middle two fingers of a toddler’s left hand found there was “an unrelated deficiency” at the time of the accident.

The accident happened early Wednesday evening at Washington Square Mall in Tigard. The boy tried to run up the down escalator, fell and got his fingers caught in the teeth grates.

The report by the State of Oregon Building Codes Division, obtained by KOIN 6 News, detailed the events surrounding the accident.

An escalator at the Washington Square Mall in Portland, Aug. 21, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
An escalator at the Washington Square Mall in Portland, Aug. 21, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

The incident happened just before 6 p.m. at the shopping center located at 585 Southwest Washington Square Road. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue said crews actually took apart the escalator to retrieve the boy’s fingers to try and re-attach them.

A little more than an hour later, the report said, the state was alerted to the incident by Don Henline with Thyssen Krupp, the company that maintains the escalators in Washington Square Mall.

The escalator was turned off and closed to the public, and a full investigation began early Thursday morning.

During that inspection, “an unrelated deficiency was found: 1 horizontal, left hand looking up, bottom end horizontal comb impact switch was inoperative at time of inspection,” the report stated.

The report also found that even if the power been “removed from the escalator at the exact moment the child’s fingers were entrapped, the downward kinetic motion of the escalator would have provided sufficient movement.”

In other words, the boy’s fingers were trapped.

“Corrections were made on site by Thyssen Krupp elevator company and switch was then tested and found to be operational by State inspector on site. Permission was given to return unit to service after corrections were completed at 12:20 p.m. on 8/21/2014,” the report continued.

The overall workings of the escalator were also checked.

“It is noted that the comb space and clearances as well as the step assemblies all functioned to code compliance when they were checked,” the report said.

The incident report also gave this account of how the accident happened: “Unattended child attempted to run up the down escalator. Child fell, got his fingers caught in grated steps and mother pulled child up to free him resulting in the severance of his 2 middle fingers. Child was taken to Randall Children’s Hospital.”

The boy’s grandmother on Friday told KOIN 6 News the toddler is doing better, but his fingers were not able to be re-attached.

State inspectors OK’d the escalator to begin again inside the mall Thursday afternoon.

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