Escalator that injured conventioneers passed inspection in April

Cause of accident still under investigation

Author: Katrina Webber, Reporter,
Published On: May 16 2013 05:31:58 PM CDT   Updated On: May 16 2013 05:54:31 PM CDT

An escalator at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center that malfunctioned and caused 20 people to be injured Wednesday had its most recent inspection in April.

Andrea DeLaune, a spokeswoman for San Antonio’s convention center, said Thursday morning that state inspectors performed their annual review of that particular escalator last month, and that it passed inspection. 

According to a written statement she issued previously, an escalator in Exhibit Hall D had “a stoppage” around 1 p.m., and there were 20 reported injuries.

Fourteen of the injured had to be treated at a hospital, including one person who suffered serious injuries, DeLaune said.

"It was crazy. I mean, everybody handled it as well as they could,” said Buddy Breen, who witnessed the accident right after he rode the same escalator to the second floor.

"There was a big well of people waiting to get on and more people were still coming toward it. So when it started going backwards, people had nowhere to go,” Breen said. “One girl was cut pretty bad. She had blood all around."

Breen said even with what he witnessed, he continued riding the convention center’s other escalators afterward.

But some conventioneers say the incident has left them mentally scarred.

“Some of them are frightened to take the escalator because of the incident that occurred,” said Ernest Lepp, repeating comments he has heard from other attendees. 

The group of escalators where the accident happened remained blocked off behind a set of locked doors Thursday morning.

DeLaune said they will remain out of service until state inspectors deem them safe.

She said both state inspectors and employees of Kone, the company that maintains the building’s escalators and elevators, are working to find out what caused the problem.

DeLaune also confirmed that this particular group of escalators is the same one that was involved in a similar accident last August.

In that case, more than half a dozen people suffered injuries.