Woman Strangled by NY Train Station Escalator

LIRR escalator had been slated for replacement

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 16, 2012 1:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – An 88-year-old woman was strangled yesterday on a Long Island Rail Road escalator that commuters said was malfunctioning for months. Irene Bernatzky was killed after she fell and her clothes became entangled in the treads of the moving stairs, investigators say. Officials say the escalator passed inspection last month after a minor repair, but commuters say it had been malfunctioning for a long time, reports the New York Times.

The escalator's left-hand rail moved when the right-hand rail did not, according to one commuter who has used the station for 15 years. "The arm is the problem because you lean on it and you can tumble over,” he explained. “It’s out of service all of the time." Records show that New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority planned several years ago to replace the 18-year-old escalator, along with aging escalators at other stations, but scrapped the plans because of budget constraints.

Nine of the Long Island Rail Road’s 71 elevators and escalators are currently out of service, according to the MTA's website.
Nine of the Long Island Rail Road’s 71 elevators and escalators are currently out of service, according to the MTA's website.   (Shutterstock)
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She was 88. But she had a lot of life left in her. She always traveled by herself to the city, and it’s hard to fathom something like this happening. - Dawn Shipsey,
one of Bernatzky's neighbors

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