You'd think that if you almost plummeted through an escalator panel that you'd immediately press the "STOP" button so no one else could get hurt. But in chilling footage from a China mall where a mom fell through such a panel to her death, two mall employees are seen minutes before the deadly incident nearly falling through the panel themselves—and doing nothing to stop the escalator, per the Hong Kong Free Press. The director of the local work-safety authority said Monday night that five minutes before Xiang Liujuan fell into the gap, mall workers had discovered the loose panel but didn't turn the escalator off, Shanghai Daily reports. Maintenance had just been performed on the escalator and workers apparently failed to screw the panel cover back on, per the Mirror.
The new surveillance footage shows one employee riding down one floor on the escalator, then back up to meet her co-worker standing on the flawed panel. When she reaches the top, the panel "tilts up on one side," per the Free Press, and the two quickly step to safety. "There is a problem, here. [We] almost fell down," one is heard saying to the other, per the paper. They can be seen briefly leaving the scene, reportedly to alert management, then returning to stand sentinel; one of them even reaches her foot out to carefully test the panel. Minutes later, Xiang and her toddler appear at the bottom of the escalator, which the workers never thought to halt. The Los Angeles Times reports by way of local media that a worker told Xiang to "jump over" the faulty panel; Xiang picks up the child and steps over the first panel but onto the loose one—the second one—and falls into the machinery. (Read more escalators stories.)