How Did a Child Fall Down a MARTA Elevator Shaft in Atlanta?

On Monday a 5-year-old boy fell 15 feet down an elevator shaft at the Kensington Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) station in Atlanta. The boy escaped serious injury. He was conscious and alert when firefighters rescued him using a wire basket.

DeKalb County Fire Captain Eric Jackson said, "Remarkably, consider the fall and what could have happened, the child was not hurt seriously."

The young boy was taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and released after evaluation. However, his parents took him back to the hospital on the same day after he told them he was having headaches. He was released again later in the evening.

According to Jackson, the child was on the second floor of the MARTA station and leaning again the elevator door "when the door somehow became disengaged or opened, and that's when the child fell.”

“He fell onto the top of the elevator car," reported Jackson

Jackson said that the rescue operation was challenging: "but we were basically able to use some ladders to get the firefighters down there, get the child secured, and bring him back up on a Stokes basket."

A Stokes basket is a metal wire basket used for rescue missions in confined spaces.

The incident happened around 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning. MARTA spokeswoman Cara Hodgson said that MARTA officials are investigating the accident.

CBS Atlanta News questioned MARTA officials about the accident. Tim Eason, the escalator and elevator manager at MARTA, said, "We know doors did swing in but at this point we don't know why.”

"When doors typically function, they slide from left to right. How would they push in?" asked a reporter?

"They slide side to side," said Eason, "and normally they shouldn't go in or out. It's a very unusual situation."

According to Eason, the elevator in question had been recently inspected by a maintenance contractor on January 4 and by a MARTA inspector on January 11. He said that other MARTA elevators and escalators have been checked and are safe.

However, the question still remains: What kind of malfunction occurred that allowed the weight of a five-year-old boy to cause an elevator door to swing in? If it turns out that the boy sustained injuries during the fall – for instance, if the headaches were a sign of a traumatic brain injury – then the boy’s family would likely have a good case against MARTA. Like all property owners, MARTA officials have the responsibility of making sure that the property is properly maintained and safe for visitors. Property owners have a legal obligation to alert visitors about known safety hazards.

Have you been injured at a place of business due to a safety hazard? If so, contact an experienced Atlanta premises liability attorney as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.