14 people hospitalized after escalator reverses at convention center


by Dillon Collier & Kens5.com Staff


Posted on May 16, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 12:29 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- Fourteen people were hospitalized and even more were injured after an escalator stopped and changed directions at the Henry B. Gonzalez Center on Wednesday afternoon, according to convention center officials.

Convention center spokeswoman Andrea DeLaune said 20 people were injured when the escalator they were riding suddenly stopped around 1 p.m., sending the visitors tumbling down over top of one another.

She said 14 of the injured were taken to a local hospital with injuries varying from serious to moderate.

Minutes after the accident, a San Antonio police officer quickly ushered a KENS 5 reporter out of the main hall and into the executive boardroom, where convention center staff later briefed the media.

The injured include visitors in town for a DISH Network work summit who had just finished eating lunch.

More than 2,500 DISH Network employees are staying at the convention center, although DISH Network representatives declined to comment on the escalator accident.

This isn't the first escalator mishap at the downtown convention center.

DeLaune said an escalator malfunctioned last August and sent crowds tumbling, although not as many people were injured. The injured included visitors in town for a GameStop expo.

A worker with the convention center's maintenance team, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was the same elevator that malfunctioned on Wednesday afternoon.

DeLaune said in a written statement that they aren't exactly sure what is wrong with the escalator but will continue to investigate:

"Kone, the HBGCC elevator/escalator maintenance contractor, was on site during the incident, as is normal procedure during large conventions. Kone is currently evaluating and inspecting the affected escalator.  All inspections required for elevator/escalator operations are current, and the affected escalator will not be returned to service until fully inspected by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations."

The DISH Network convention went on as planned. It is expected to wrap up on Thursday.

The San Antonio Fire Department sent at least 14 units to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, located at 200 E. Market St., around 12:52 a.m., according to the department's active call list.