Ballpark accident sends 28 to hospital

June 19, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers James M. Coram and Bruce Reid contributed to this article.

Twenty-eight people were sent to the hospital yesterday when a crowded Oriole Park escalator malfunctioned and sent dozens of baseball fans tumbling back toward the main concourse.

Orioles officials estimated that a total of 43 people were injured after the main escalator on the right field side of Camden Yards apparently ground to a stop and lurched backward about 30 minutes before the start last night's 7:05 game between the Orioles and Twins.

"It kind of shimmied for a second and then kind of slid back," said Greg Johnson of Brooklyn, who suffered a minor elbow injury. "They were pulling people off of me. I was at the bottom of the pile. I was on top of some lady and somebody was on top of me. I'm still shaking."

Five paramedic vans were at the scene within 10 minutes of the accident, and the paramedics were aided by club physician Dr. Michael Jacobs and Orioles trainers Jamie Reed and Richie Bancells.

"It doesn't look like there were any serious injuries right now, but we're not really qualified to make that kind of evaluation," said Orioles vice chairman Joe Foss, who reached the scene within minutes of the accident. "All we can do right now is look out for the health and safety of these people and get them the proper medical care. The club physicians and trainers are here in addition to the the emergency crews. Everybody responded in a very professional manner."

Several fans were placed on back boards and in neck braces for the trip to the hospital.

Peg Benzinger, a spokeswoman for Mercy Medical Center, said the hospital was treating 10 adults and one child from the escalator accident. None of the injuries was serious, and all the people taken to Mercy were expected to be released last night, she said.

Dr. Henry Chong, attending physician at University Hospital, said his hospital treated seven adults and three children, most for minor injuries such as multiple cuts. One man was believed to have a fractured ankle, Dr. Chong said, and all were expected to be released last night.

Four adults were taken to Church Hospital, said Donna Milliken, a nursing supervisor. All were treated for minor injuries and released, she said.

A spokesman for Harbor Medical Center said three adults were treated and released there.

Police cordoned off the damaged escalator and re-routed fans to their seats in the upper decks, but the accident was not reported over the public address system and the game was not delayed.

Club and stadium officials said they immediately notified the appropriate stadium contractors and insurance adjusters. The cause of the accident was not known.

The Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority, which operates the stadium, released a statement later saying the operation of all escalators at Camden Yards had been suspended until they could be inspected.

"This escalator -- out of precaution -- was rebuilt before the season to the point that it was essentially new, but not because of any particular problem," said Herbert J. Belgrad, chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

For fans who were either on or near the escalator, it was unsettling at best and terrifying at worst.

"The steps just sort of collapsed, and all these people started to pile up on me," said Eric Johnson, 20, of Brooklyn, who is not related to Greg Johnson. "I just scuffed up my elbows, but my grandmother was higher up on the escalator and she messed up her leg. They took her to the hospital."

Syd Manekofsky, 72, of Silver Spring, said he was just starting to ascend the escalator when it suddenly began moving backward very quickly. Three or four people fell on top of him, he said. He suffered bruises, and he was treated at University Hospital and released.

Mr. Manekofsky also said that medical staff at the ballpark responded well.

He said the accident would not keep him away from Camden Yards. "I'm planning to go the game Monday, but I think I may walk up the ramp."

It was not the first time an Orioles game has been marred by a serious escalator accident. On May 2, 1964, a 14-year-old girl was killed and 46 other children were injured when an escalator malfunctioned before an Orioles game at Memorial Stadium.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.