6:46 AM CDT, October 19, 2012
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KTLA) -- A 64-year-old woman in a wheelchair died one day after she fell backwards down the escalator at the Hollywood/Highland Metro Red Line station on Tuesday.
"Apparently the elevator ... was out of service operating from the mezzanine area to the street level," said Rick Jager, a spokesman for the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
But instead of getting back on the train and going to the next stop, as recommended by a Metro spokesperson, the woman's caregiver pushed the wheelchair onto the escalator.
A short time later, the escalator reportedly malfunctioned, sending both of the women tumbling backwards.
The woman in the wheelchair suffered head trauma and died at the hospital on Wednesday.
"It shouldn't be done, and we should always try to find another route, becasue you never know what's going to happen" said Cassi Baird, who has had similar problems with her wheelchair.
Cassi's friend, Emma Ritz, herself a former caregiver, says the escalator is never an option.
"I would go around and find another exit or just not go up there," she said. "I would just not even have the option to go up an escalator."
"Sometimes it's frustrating to have to go find another route or wait and so we try that, but it's not a smart thing to do," Cassi agreed.
Police say the 48-year-old caregiver has cuts and bruises but will be fine. It's unclear whether she might face charges.
Metro officials say they make announcements when elevators are out of service so people in wheelchairs can wait until the next stop to get off safely.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department was investigating the case, and said that it was unclear why the elevator was out of service.