Why ballpark escalator shaft broke still unclear

July 01, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

A broken metal shaft caused the Camden Yards escalator accident that injured 44 people last month, Bruce E. Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority confirmed yesterday. But investigators still haven't determined why the shaft broke, he said.

Meanwhile, he announced that four of the five escalators at the ballpark will be operating for tonight's game as the Orioles return to town for a 10-game homestand.

The right field-side escalator that malfunctioned June 18 will remain out of service while a San Antonio laboratory examines parts damaged in the accident, Mr. Hoffman said.

"We will get to the bottom of this," he said during a news conference at the Orioles offices.

The escalator shaft sheared near each of the two gear wheels that help to turn the escalator, which takes passengers from the ground level concourse to the upper deck, he said. The vehicle's brakes were left ineffective when the shaft broke.

The five Camden Yards escalators were made by Montgomery Elevator Co. of Moline, Ill., and are maintained by the company, which is involved in the investigation.

Mr. Hoffman said the four escalators that will resume operation today have passed two sets of tests.

He said a dye test was conducted to search for problems in the drive shafts, and another examination was done to determine whether the escalators were capable of handling certain weight loads.

He said the tests were conducted by the Southwest Research Institute, under the direction of inspectors from the Maryland Department of Licensing and Regulation's Division of Labor and Industry. Montgomery Elevator and another consultant, Lerch-Bates Associates, assisted in the tests, he said.

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