Early Sunday morning, April 7, 2013, a man fell while riding down an escalator to one of the downtown Seattle Metro bus tunnels. His shirt got tangled in the teeth at the base of the escalator, and unable to free himself from the jaws of death, he died of strangulation. I don’t know about you, but of all the possible scenarios surrounding my fear of dying, I can’t imagine experiencing that type of violent death.
What rivals the tragedy of this man’s death is the way the local media treated the incident. Local television news outlets of ABC, NBC, CBS; and primary newspapers Seattle Times and Seattle PI; all felt it was very important for us viewers and readers to know that surveillance video showed that the man staggered onto the escalator; and that an opened bottle of brandy was found in his back pocket. Oh, I see, it’s the man’s fault for being strangled to death by the escalator on which he was riding. Perhaps, then, a better title for my article should be Suicide by Escalator.
The deceased, Maurecio Bell, forty-two years old, was a father of four, a brother, and a son. Many family members are mourning this horrific death which was caught on surveillance video – of course – so that all of us newshounds would be able to witness him die right before our eyes. David Bell, the victim’s father, stated that anyone could have been strangled in that escalator regardless of the circumstances, e.g., someone could have had a stroke or a heart attack and have met the same type of end. Or, speaking for myself, maybe someone as clumsy as me could have lost his or her balance, fallen, and been strangled in a similar fashion.
Why did the media decide to focus on this man’s possible inebriation? Like it or not, doing so turns ones attention to that extremely irrelevant element of the tragedy rather than on the real tragedy of the circumstances.
And here’s something else for you to ponder. For those of you who do not live in my state of Washington, let me tell you something else that was seen on the surveillance video. A few people walked right past this man and did nothing to assist him. Eventually a passerby tried to free the man and when unable to do so, he pushed the emergency stop button and then attempted to revive the man with CPR. By then, of course, it was too late. Surveillance video showed that immediately upon getting caught up into the teeth of the steps, the victim struggled briefly and within moments, his body went limp. At least it was an almost instant death, but it was a fearsome and painful one, regardless of how quick.
Isn’t an accidental death, an accident? Isn’t that the point of this story? Why should any blame be apportioned to the victim when it has already been determined that it’s a strong possibility that the escalator in question might have some unattended service issues. But I’m not going to blame the escalator or the maintenance crew for that escalator, and I’m certainly not going to blame the decedent.
Maurecio Bell was a victim who did not deserve to die in this manner and should not have had his character besmirched in the process. First and foremost, Maurecio was a human being; one of Earth’s short-lived inhabitants.
Rest in peace Mr. Bell. I’m sorry your life ended at such a young age.