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Toddler Breaks Leg After Getting Caught in Escalator

by Angelica Lai

Photograph by Twenty20

Andrea Diaczek said she did everything right when she went down an escalator with her 2-year-old son, Julian, at the Vancouver International Airport last week.

"You're holding onto your child and you're holding onto the railing. And you're not fooling around, you know. You're not leaning over and he's not crawling on it," she told the Canadian Press.

Still, in a heart-stopping moment, her toddler ended up getting caught by the escalator. The Canadian mom from Calgary heard a squeak and saw the toe of Julian's boot entrapped inside of the stair. Before she knew it, she was trying to yank him out, but the escalator's teeth had sucked in most of the shoe.

"He was screaming. I think initially when his toe was stuck and it got run through the side it was just a bit of shock, but then his leg got twisted around backwards," Diaczek told local radio station 660 News.

Diaczek also screamed for help. Someone pressed the emergency stop button and several people, including her Diaczek's husband, ran to help. A bystander handed her some scissors, which she was able to use to cut her toddler free from what was left of his boot.

Apart from the broken leg and some swelling, bruises and cuts, the mom said Julian is OK. She hopes other parents would also be more aware of the dangers of escalators. (Really though that horrifying incident in 2015 when a mom pushed her child to safety before she disappeared into the gap shook us to the core).

“He's good but I would say he’s lucky," the 22-week-pregnant mom told The Vancouver Sun. "I can imagine a bare foot and a little foam flip-flop. Yes, his boot got stuck, but it also gave him a little bit of protection."

A spokeswoman for the airport said the incident has opened an investigation. An ambulance was called to provide medical care for the child, and a maintenance crew inspected the escalator before it was started again.

"Safety and security is our top priority and it’s at the core of everything we do, and we will certainly implement any enhancements necessary pending the outcome of our investigation," the airport said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there were about 11,000 escalator-related injuries in 2007 (the latest data we could find), which isn't far off from their 1992 to 2003 data that about 10,000 escalator-related injuries requiring emergency room treatment were reported annually. During this 10-year period, 24 non-work-related deaths occurred, mostly from clothing becoming trapped or head injuries from falls.

"Caught-in" injuries for children under 5 were mainly from their hands or footwear (or dangling laces) getting entrapped in an escalator comb plate at the top or bottom of the escalator or in the space between the moving stairs and the escalator sidewall.

According to safety tips by the CPSC, when using an escalator with children, be sure their shoes are tied before getting on the escalator. Hold their hands and don't let them sit or play on the escalator. Stand in the center of the step, facing forward, and avoid the side of steps where entrapment can occur. Don't bring children onto escalators in strollers, walkers or carts, and make a mental note of where the emergency shutoff buttons are in case you need to stop the escalator.

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