Escalator Inspections Ordered Across Mass. After Boy’s Death

AUBURN (CBS) – After a 4-year-old boy was killed in a tragic accident on an escalator at the Auburn Mall, officials are ordering multiple inspections of escalators throughout Massachusetts.

The escalator at the Sears store where Mark DiBona slipped off and fell two stories remains closed. It’s at the center of a family tragedy and state investigation.

Two inspectors were later suspended for failing to notice a gap near the top of the escalator that is larger than allowed by state code. The boy reportedly slipped through that gap and fell.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Smith reports.

“There was a barricade that is required by the code in this particular circumstance, because the prescribed gap, which is five inches, was exceeded. That barricade was missing,” said Thomas Gatzunis, the state’s public safety commissioner.

There are 975 escalators in the state of Massachusetts, and they are inspected each year. The two inspectors involved have looked at about 25 in the past year, and they will all be re-inspected.

The DiBona family has not commented, but the boy’s father reportedly mourned his son on his Facebook page.

“This is an absolute tragedy that should have been avoided,” said Gatzunis. “Our inspectors absolutely did something wrong…My heart goes out to the family.”

The two inspectors have been suspended without pay for now, and officials are reviewing the incident to see whether further action should be taken.

  • jerry

    I feel sorry for the parents loss , but for goodness sakes pay attention to your child in the store instead of letting them climb on things or letting them run wild .If people would have a lil less distractions in there life like talking on the cell phone that lady that walked into the water fountain and fell in because she was talking on her cell phone and then she is trying to sue the mall because she fell in the water because of being on a cell phone give me a break . Our kids are our future we NEED TO PAY A LIL MORE ATTENTION TO THEM so they wont get HURT . I might be wrong but the only way that kid could have gotten hurt at that mall was because the parent was not watching the child properly the only way the kid could have fell was by climbing on the thing .

    • LPC

      I agree…who lets a 5 year old on an escalator alone or not being attended carefully by a parent or adult. Hold their hands!~! Everyone knows accidents can happen on them. How many times to parents/adults need to be warned. If this child was being carefully supervised this tragic accident would never have happened!!!

      • Don't blame the parents

        Obviously you have no kids, kids on a leash or kids that are stuck holding on to your leg as you walk. Accidents happen, my daughter broke her arm when she tripped on a rug, walking one way a look the other way. I was literally looking at her when it happen. Accidents happen and that one was completely preventable if inspectors have done their jobs. DO NOT BLAME GRIEVING PARENTS. Things like that happen in seconds, NO ONE can seat and watch a toddler every second of the day nor keep them at home 24/7. How on earth would I think my daughter was in danger walking at home. She was 19 months old when she broke her arm. Codes exist to keep us safe, how about imposing them?

    • RIley

      That is a ton of judgement. As a parent, you are often multitasking (yes, all tasks could be related to your child) and if they have a gap at the top of the escalator that is greater than 5 inches, that is an issue. I agree that you should be vigilant and not assume that things are the way that they should be but I am pretty sure most of us assume a relative level of safety on things. As for the woman who fell in the fountain, it was my understanding she was suing because a security guard put the tape on the internet.

    • Drock

      For goodness sakes, you can not watch a 4 year old every second of the day! You go to pay at the register, they are attracted to something and just like that they walk away. You must not have kids or you would know this! Or maybe you have your kids on one of those doggie leashes or have them glued to your leg when you go out. People have close calls with their kids everyday and it is not because they are not being watched or are distracted. They are paying at the register, putting groceries in a cart, etc. You know, normal stuff people do with kids.

      • drc239

        Amen!! Absolutely agree that we should not redirect blame at the grieving parents! … How heartless! Yes, some parents are awful- this is true. But we cannot stare at a child constantly. You have to pay attention to your surroundings as well. But things happen in a split second! And if you have more than one child, then that makes things even tougher! Does that mean we should not have more than one child? No! My Mother had 5 kids … we grew up in the days of lead based paint, smoking in a car with your kid in the back seat, and kids were allowed to play outside all day long- anywhere in the neighborhood, not just in the backyard. You live, you learn! Time’s change. It’s not a perfect world, you just do the best you can. When you own a business, it is your job to make sure your store is as safe as possible … and if you are an inspector, DO YOUR JOB! This is so sad.

    • heathgard

      Lady sued cause the security guards posted the video on youtube,

  • Lisa Macy

    I would think this would fall more under the building inspectors jusristiction.

    As bad as I feel for that families loss of one so youn,g I hope neither Sears or the escalator compant get sued. If parents are going to take thier young ones out while shopping, it’s thier responsibilty to watch them and keep them safe. I read there was a mere 6-inch openning.only a very small child would just slip through that without some effort…

  • mariah

    you dont get it. the boy simply held the moving rail and it pulled him through, basically what amounts to a hole to the side of the rail that by law and standards should have been blocked by a wall. Even if a parent was holdin his hand that rail pulls hard enough to drag him through.

    • Intelligent Human

      this is not the truth of what happened. sorry to burst your bubble…

      • Jason

        Why don’t you measure a child and see how “thick” they are. I’m 60 years old, overweight and fit in an 11 inch space. I’m sure a four year old fits in 6 inches. And in reality, the handrail DID pull the child through the opening. Read a few more articles and get all the facts.

      • Brandon McArthur

        How does a four year old boy fit through a 6 inch space? I mean, come ON folks. Seriously! I’m just not buying this whole load of… shtuff… And again… Parents? Keep your kids under control, I know, it might be a stretch for you, but let’s give it a try, shall we?

  • Liz

    I still can’t figure out how it happened. Even for a 4 year old, how does it throw the over the side or am I just misreading this? I wish they could have a better picture with some marking to indicate the problem.

    • Michelle

      He wasn’t on the escalator, he walked up beside it. See where the yellow barrier is (now) placed? The one that reads, “Do Not Enter” He walked up to the side of the Down escalator and grabbed the rubber handrail with both hands, when he did that, it pulled him through that opening you see between the escalator and the wall – at the end of the barrier on the picture.

      • sb

        So I would say absolutely the parents fault for letting him play by the escalator!

  • Intelligent Human

    the parents should be the ones to blame. do not let your children play around escalators. plain and simple.

    • A Far More Intelligent Human

      Sigh. Here we go again… whenever a child is injured or killed, there are always idiots around screaming, “Where were the parents?!” – even in cases that are clear accidents. It’s like they come out of the wood work, or crawl out from under a rock or something.

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but you (and the rest of the witch-burning, pitchfork wielding idiots on this board) are the stupidist people to every walk the earth. Plain and simple.

      • Don't blame the parents

        If I made add to your comment, “A Far More Intelligent Human” …I hope these folks that blame the parents don’t have kids and remain like that, I mean, it would help to clean up the gene pool. Too much ignorance already, I rather not see that passed on. It is hard to discuss stuff like that with people that have no experience with normal kids, as if these people never got hurt even when they were old enough to be on their own. Accidents just happen. This one preventable if inspections where done the way they should have. As people our eyes are drawn to different things all the time, like avoiding to bump on that shelf full of clothes right in front of you. We cannot watch the kids every second of the day. There are things like, going to the bathroom, fixing meals, and oh my…getting some water and actually having to look at the glass as pouring water instead of the kids. Anyway. Accidents happen, Don’t blame the parents!

  • Brandon McArthur

    Finally. People are making sense here. Parents do not watch their children in today’s society. I think we all know here that within days a lawsuit will be filed, against the escalator inspection company, Sears, and Simon Malls. To mom and dad, I hope the $$$ brings comfort to you. Next time, WATCH YOUR KID!

  • Sharon C

    I agree that most parents do NOT watch their children appropriately when out and about and that they have too many distractions surrounding them. And that’s what my opionion on the matter was – it was the parent’s fault. UNTIL I read MIchelle’s post about how the accident actually happened. It only takes 5 seconds to exit the escalator, let go of mom’s hand, and for him to grab hold of the outside rail and be yanked through the opening. My 7 year old could easily fit through an opening that small if standing to the side and surprised by the sudden jerk. I feel our society is ENTIRELY too litigous, and can’t believe I’m saying it, but I believe the parents have an open and shut case and should sue. The opening is too large and poses a known danger.

  • Family Of Boy Who Died On Escalator Issues Statement « CBS Boston

    […] are inspected each year. The two inspectors involved have looked at about 25 in the past year, and they will all be re-inspected. Print Share […]

  • Brett

    How about you hold your flippin’ kids hand while going up or down an escalator and not letting them play by it. Stop blamming other people and take responsibility.

    • Don't blame the parents

      Well, the inspectors got suspended without pay, didn’t they. That shows who the responsible party is. Seconds is all it takes for the accident to happen. There is no excuse for two people to not do their community safety related job correctly.

  • Justin McClure - Gorgeous. Hilarious. You're Welcome.

    […] escalator at the Auburn Mall, officials are ordering multiple inspections of escalators throughout Massachusetts. They are probing the escalator, but right now it hasn’t given up any information, but they […]

  • lori

    Stop blaming the parents here. How insensitive and gauche you all are. Mom may have had an infant she was toting. Mom may have been carrying a heavy bag. Do any of you have kids, three or four year olds, and realize how FAST, WILEY, and STUBBORN they can be? I am on my three and a half year old son like white on rice, totally overprotective, and he has given me a few scares despite this. Building a sandcastle last summer, sitting with him on the sand, totally attending to him, alert as any mo should be, he LEAPT to his feet and ran straight into the rough surf. He was under the water and out of sight before I was even knee deep, and believe me, I HUSTLED. Kids can be so wiley. Blaming this poor devastated mother serves no purpose here other than to assure your scared selves that this could never happen to you.
    It could. Get some class and leave condolences for this devastated family, not blame. They lost their four year old son in the blink of an eye. Those poor people. You nasty blaming people all disgust me.

    • Kerri

      Well said. Whilst I agree that many parents let their kids run wild I don’t think we should assume that was the case here.

      And even if it is, they have paid the ultimate price.


    I;m sure it happened real quickly in a moment someone lost their children. Who is anyone to judge them. I’m sure they are in torment why would you add to someones pain by such hurtful comments. SPREAD HATE RECEIVE HATE SPREAD COMPASSION AND LOVE FOR EACH OTHER AND WE JUST MIGHT HAVE A CHANCE IN THIS WORLD.

  • Michelle

    It is absolutely appalling how cold and callous some of you are. I couldn’t agree with Lori more. Those of you who, for some reason, feel you have the right to be so judgmental clearly either don’t have children of have forgotten what it’s like to have small children. I have an 8 month old girl and a 2 year old boy and it would kill me if anything ever happened to either of them. I watch them like a hawk, but the simply reality is, you can’t POSSIBLY watch them every second. It could have easily been me walking towards the escalator carrying my infant and holding my son’s hand. He could have torn his hand from mine and taken off, and been gone seconds later. Kids can be incredibly impulsive and fast despite a parent’s best efforts. Bottom line, the space was larger than it was supposed to be and the inspectors need to be held accountable. Their sole job is to inspect these escalators and ensure everything was as it should be and safe for EVERYONE. They failed to do that and now a little boy is dead because of it. Regardless, I’m sure these parents will be blaming themselves for the rest of their lives. They certainly don’t need a bunch of cold hearted people who don’t know what they are talking about and have never walked in their shoes doing it for them as well.

  • anon

    too bad you can’t “suspend” the parents

  • R U Serious?

    I like how parents are always to blame. This is the kind of thing you would expect a child to do, there should’ve never been a way for him to fall 2 stories to his death. What parent would expect such a thing to happen? This is a freak accident and nothing else. You can’t tie your kids to a leash people. How many of you have a kid that’s ran into the street, disappear in a store? Get off your high horse

  • Loving Parent

    Maybe you all should have a little remorse for these parents. THEY JUST LOST THEIR CHILD. Have some damn sympathy.

  • Melgator

    Shame on those of you bashing the parents. Always an assumption that it is poor parenting. I have an autistic child and I watch her every possible minute of the day and she still manages to get into things. How sad that some of you (who probably don’t even have children) are so quick to blame the parents who have lost their child. Don’t turn a true tragedy into your anti-parent parade. The report clearly states that a secure component was missing from the escalator thus making it non-compliant with state code. So as much as you expect parents to be more vigilant, how about buildings keeping their equipment up to code?

  • Tia~

    Shame on you people! A child has died! His mother and 7 year and sister saw it happen! Dont you think theres enough grief for them? Must you post such heartless comments? Or are you so miserable in your own lives that you must corrupt others too? Have a bit of decency and THINK before posting such hurtful comments.

  • Report: Family Of Boy Killed In Escalator Accident Donates His Heart « CBS Boston

    […] Mark DiBona died in an escalator accident at the Auburn Mall earlier this month. The Worceter Telegram and Gazette reports the boy’s family has donated his heart. Also See: Escalator Inspections Ordered Across Mass. After Boy’s Death […]

  • pamela

    stop blaming parents for not watching their kids. Accidents do happen and this escalator did not meet state code. the gap was too wide, so if a parent held his hand he still could have slipped through the gap. I hope this mall gets a hefty fine. The parents are suffering the loss of their child and they donated a heart. Are any of you organ donors. I’m a parent and watch my kids, but sometimes things happen so stop the negativity please

  • Report: Most Mall Escalators Not Inspected Annually « Report: Most Mall Escalators Not Inspected Annually « CBS Boston

    […] A 4-year-old Dudley boy died in March when he fell from an escalator at the Auburn Mall. The death sparked a safety sweep of about 900 escalators statewide. […]

  • Mass. Escalator Inspectors Penalized After Boy’s Death « CBS Boston

    […] of Public Safety will also suspend six other inspectors for five days and reprimand 26 others after a sweep of all escalators in Massachusetts found 7.5 percent lacked barricades required to cover a gap between the moving staircases and […]

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