After MBTA escalator malfunction in Boston, couple recall similar failure in 2011 – NBC Boston
Ten years later, John Dwyer said the sounds of people screaming were what he had the most.
On June 18, 2011, Dwyer and his wife, Leslie, boarded the train to Boston from their home in Johnston, Rhode Island, for the Bruins’ Stanley Cup Parade. His father joined them for the festivities.
When they arrived at the Back Bay MBTA station, Dwyer climbed up an escalator that would bring them to street level. His wife and father stood in front of him as they went up.
âAll of a sudden the escalator rushed forward,â Dwyer recalls. âAround the time you thought in your mind that something was wrong, you were falling back. The escalator was moving at full speed in reverse.
In the chaos that followed, Dwyer was trapped under a bunch of other people. The escalator steps scuffed and hollowed out her back as they continued to move.
“I couldn’t find it,” recalls Leslie Dwyer. “I looked at the ground and all I could see was his eyes and his nose. There were people everywhere, crushing him.”
Luckily, two fast-acting Bruins fans wearing Chara and Neely jerseys quickly pulled Dwyer’s folks out of harm’s way. Someone else pressed the emergency stop button.
As the adrenaline wore off, Dwyer said he started to feel the burn from the scrapes on his back. He struggled to find medical treatment to clean and heal the wounds. The family ended up missing most of the parade.
âIt was a few seconds of terror that you don’t want to relive,â Leslie Dwyer said.
So you can imagine how the couple reacted when they heard about a malfunction of an eerily similar escalator at the same MBTA station on September 26.
âIt brought it all back,â John Dwyer said. “It was extremely similar with the description of how the escalator moved and how people fell like dominoes. I was angry.”
Witnesses describe a frightening incident on an escalator at an MBTA station.
It’s not just the Back Bay station that has a precarious history with escalators. In a review of court records, NBC10 investigators found more than 50 lawsuits at MBTA stations throughout the Boston area.
- A Hyde Park woman fell and was injured when an escalator at Forest Hills station suddenly reversed in November 2018. Her medical bills exceeded $ 8,000, according to the complaint.
- A woman who lives in Beacon Hill began walking on a stationary escalator at Park St. Station in December 2011. As she reached the top, the escalator lit up and moved in the opposite direction. âIt was like your feet were swept under you,â she told NBC10 Boston.
- A Dorchester woman was on a Silver Line escalator in November 2006 when it “suddenly stopped” and fell.
Records show that the majority of cases were settled out of court for undisclosed amounts.
George Pesiridis was holding a cafe as he stepped off an escalator at Harvard Square Station in December 2009.
“All of a sudden he jumped up and shook,” Pesiridis said. “It made me lose my balance and I tumbled all the way to the bottom.”
Pesiridis broke his ribs and tore his tendons from the fall. He missed several months of work while he recovered.
The auto mechanic wonders if escalators are getting the maintenance and repair work they need to spot problems before they get more serious.
âThey keep putting off major work until something like this happens,â Pesiridis said, referring to the recent Back Bay malfunction. “Then they turn around and do what really needs to be done.”
The MBTA said the Back Bay escalator underwent its annual inspection in July and received state certification. It also received monthly maintenance checks from the contractor who maintains the T.
That contractor, KONE Inc, is paid $ 8.7 million this fiscal year for the escalator contract. Joe Pesaturo, a spokesperson for MBTA, said the frequency of maintenance activities at each escalator is structured around the volume of passengers and the size of the unit.
While noting that MBTA escalators have an overall “uptime rate” of nearly 99%, Pesaturo said in a statement: “Public safety is of paramount importance, and the MBTA is committed to determining the underlying cause and to work to ensure that such an incident does not happen again. “
A KONE spokesperson did not respond to questions about previous trials or the causes of the 2011 incident at the Back Bay station. The company said it was working with the MBTA to investigate the issue and would perform any necessary tests before the escalator overhaul.
“KONE is fully committed to ensuring the safe operation of all units and all passengers,” the company said in a statement. âKONE regularly inspects and maintains units in accordance with industry regulatory requirements and contractual agreements with each customer. “
Dennis Olson is an escalator safety expert with over 30 years of industry experience. He called the failure “catastrophic” and said investigators would take a close look at maintenance, repair and inspection records.
“You’re going to find things that could have been done, or should have been done, but which probably weren’t done or weren’t done adequately,” Olson said.
With a rigorous maintenance and service program, Olson said, incidents like the one on the Back Bay escalator should be preventable.
“The public needs to be concerned,” he said. “It is an extreme incident which cannot be minimized.”
From his home in Rhode Island, John Dwyer has expressed his frustration at never having heard what caused the frightening dysfunction he experienced in 2011. He is hoping something will change this time around.
âThey better give a really good explanation of why this happened and why it continues to happen,â Dwyer said. “I mean, how many people still have to be injured?” “