Husband of wife killed on Montreal escalator calls for answers
MONTREAL – Scherkaoui El Hananana describes his wife, Naima Rharouity, as a courageous woman who was proud to have become a Canadian.
But like many others, El Hananana is deeply disturbed at what caused her death.
“I find it very strange that something like this could happen on an escalator,” he said.
“There are things that must be checked. I have to know the truth.”
Rharouity died after an item of her clothing was apparently caught on the escalator at the Fabre metro station.
Her death has cast a spotlight on escalator safety; and the rules in the province of Quebec are significantly more lax than those in Ontario.
“It’s the honour system.”
The biggest differences are in the number of inspectors and the lack of regulated inspections.
• There are more than 70 escalator inspectors in Ontario, while there are just 16 in Quebec.
• By law, escalator inspections occur in Ontario once a year. In Quebec there are no requirements for inspections.
Although the building code in Quebec has tightened over the years, an escalator only has to meet the code that was in force at the time of construction.
Régie spokesperson Sylvain Lamothe said that since 1997, building code regulations require that all new escalator installations have an automatic shutdown feature when something becomes stuck.
“These regulations are not retroactive,” he said, noting that an escalator would need to be completely replaced since 1997 in order for the safety measure to be legally required.
“It’s the honour system,” said Brent McMillan of the International Union of Elevator Constructors.
“The company is responsible to ensure that it’s up to the present day standards by code, but there is no authority to come to ensure that it’s up to those standards.”
Société de transport de Montréal (STM) vice president Marvin Rotrand told Global News that the agency has adequate protocols.
“I don’t think our norms are any different from anyone else’s,” he said.
“I’m not qualified to talk on this as there’s an investigation at the moment.”
A New York City personal injury lawyer who handles a lot of escalator cases, Kenneth A. Wilhelm, told Global News that the installation of emergency stop buttons that run the length of the stairs could go a long way toward preventing injuries and death.
“If there was an emergency button next to you and you didn’t know it, what good would it do if you were being strangled?”
In Rharouity’s case, there were two emergency stop buttons on the escalator but they were both at the end of the stairs and inconspicuous.
Rharouity’s funeral is scheduled for Friday.
© 2014 Shaw Media