UPDATE, 11:40 a.m.: A Metro rider disputes the transit agency's account of what happened when an escalator malfunction injured five riders Tuesday morning.
Rachel Frankel said she had taken the escalator just before the incident and noticed a large piece of metal siding banging against the escalator stairs as she went down.
"This siding did not get caught on someone's bag/clothing and ripped up," she said. "It got caught against a woman's leg and tripped her."
She said the piece bent up into the space of the adjacent escalator as well.
The escalators kept moving, though automatic sensors are supposed to stop them. Instead, Frankel said she and another rider pushed the emergency buttons on both the broken and middle escalators. Then, she said, riders pushed the metal piece off the middle escalator so that it could still be used by riders.
Metro has not responded about her account.
ORIGINAL POST, 10:10 a.m.: Five Metro riders were injured Tuesday morning on a L'Enfant Plaza escalator, when a piece of the moving staircase came loose.
It appears that a rider's bag or clothing became caught in the side panel of an escalator heading down to the Orange/Blue line platform just before 8:30 a.m., said Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato. The transfer station is typically crowded during that rush period.
The panel detached into the stairway of the escalator and five riders lost their balance and fell, Asato said. Three of them were taken to local hospitals with scrapes and cuts that appear to be non-life threatening, she said, while two others were treated at the scene.
It was not immediately clear whether the escalator stopped automatically as it is supposed to, or whether someone hit the emergency stop button to finally halt it. Information also was not immediately available about when the equipment had last been inspected. Metro is continuing to investigate.
The escalator will remain closed until crews can inspect and repair it.