Louisiana family sues MBTA following escalator malfunction

Closed off escalator connecting to commuter rail at Back Bay station after injuries occurred due to a malfunction.

A family from Louisiana is suing the MBTA and Kone Inc.—the contractors responsible for maintaining some of the MBTA's escalators—after suffering several injuries from an MBTA escalator malfunction. 

The malfunction occurred on Sunday, Sept. 26 at the Back Bay MBTA station, when an escalator meant to carry Commuter Rail passengers to street level became flat like a slide and started moving in reverse. 

Karson and Holly Bethay and their two young children were among the passengers on the escalator at the time of its malfunction. The family was visiting from Louisiana to see the Patriots play against the New Orleans Saints in Foxboro, and were traveling back to Boston from the game at the time of the malfunction. 

Following the malfunction, the family was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital with injuries that may necessitate extensive treatment and rehabilitation. At least five others were also transported to the hospital for injuries related to the escalator malfunction. 

Per WHDH, the family suffered “…multiple fractures of the upper and lower extremities; extensive and deep lacerations to the face and head; and other serious injuries.” 

After sustaining these injuries and being admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital, the Bethays filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday, Sept. 30. 

The lawsuit is two-count; the first count accuses Kone Inc. and “John Doe”—any other company the family should decide to sue later on in the case—of negligence of escalator maintenance and inspection, which led the family to endure aforementioned injuries and to have to pay extensive medical bills. 

The second count of the lawsuit involves asking the court to issue a restraining order to make it so the MBTA and Kone cannot repair the escalator involved in the malfunction, nor get rid of any of the parts of the escalator. This count also calls for the preservation of all records, including surveillance video, pertaining to the malfunction. 

The incident sent nine individuals to the hospital, and the injuries were reported to be minor at the time of the incident.

NBC10 Boston interviewed Eli Smith, a witness to the malfunction, who said, "There was like a boy with his shirt covered in blood, an old woman that was like gushing, her face was covered in it. It was crazy." 

WHDH interviewed Sara Aucoin, an individual who was also visiting from Louisiana and had been gashed by the escalator. She said, “I was bleeding. Everyone was bleeding because as the escalator was falling it was grinding us. It was literally like shredding us. It was awful.”

Per MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, the cause of the escalator malfunction is still under investigation. 

Over the course of the past month, the MBTA has had other notable incidents, two of which occurred close to UMass Boston. 

On Saturday, Sept. 11, BU professor David Jones was found dead under a set of rusty stairs near the JFK/UMass T-stop. The stairs had been closed off for roughly 20 months at that point. They have since been removed. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, many UMass Boston students, faculty, and staff were delayed as a result of a red-line train derailment at Broadway station. No injuries were reported from this incident. 

The MBTA issued a statement Thursday, Sept. 30. It reads, “The MBTA’s top priority is ensuring the safety and reliability of the system and it continues to invest billions of dollars on major infrastructure projects and procurements of new vehicles.”

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