It's a gruesome way to go: A 30-year-old mother was killed in central China over the weekend when the metal floor panel that sat between the top of a mall escalator and the floor beyond gave way as she and her son exited the escalator. But as the woman, identified as Xiang Liujuan, fell halfway through, she pushed her toddler son to safety. The South China Morning Post reports a woman standing nearby caught him, moved him to the side, then managed to briefly grab Xiang's hand. But seconds later she was gone, pulled in by the machinery. Most details come from outlets citing the Wuhan Evening News, as well as an extremely graphic video of the incident. The Hong Kong Free Press reports by way of the Evening News that Xiang's entire body was "sucked into" the escalator's treads.
Those treads had to be cut in order for her to be removed, in a process that took roughly four hours. Her husband was reportedly on the scene; he had apparently been with his wife and son but hadn't gotten on the escalator yet. AFP cites an anonymous Evening News source who claims work had recently been completed on the escalator and that the maintenance workers failed to properly screw in the access panel. The incident occurred at the Anliang department store in Jingzhou, Hubei province, and public opinion seemed to be split between faulting store management for not immediately turning the escalator off and praising the mother's dying act of love. (A woman was killed last year after her scarf and hair became caught in a Montreal subway.)