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City disagrees with maintenance company report on escalator accident

DENVER - The city agency in charge of escalator inspections has some disagreements with conclusions about the Coors Field accident released by Kone Inc., the company responsible for maintaining escalators at the stadium.

Thirty-five people were injured July 2 when an escalator suddenly sped up and knocked baseball fans down three flights of stairs.

The Kone Inc. report released Wednesday said the accident was caused by an inadvertently misconnected wire that caused a delay of about three quarters of a second before the brakes took hold. The company said normally that wouldn't be a problem, but due to overcrowding on the escalator, the brakes couldn't recover.

But inspectors with the Denver Community Planning and Development Department believe it was an improper setting on the brakes and not overloading that caused the accident.

Julius Zsako, a city spokesman, said that Kone's report leaves some questions unanswered. It doesn't adequately explain the brake failure to us and Denver is committed to seeing that a weight test is conducted on the escalator to double check the braking capacity of the system, he said.

Zsako said the city is also waiting for Kone's annual inspection report, which is overdue.

Kone Inc. issued the following statement. "Given the complex issues at hand, where possible, Kone Inc. hopes to continue to work closely with the city of Denver and the Colorado Rockies to determine the best way to solve this issue and return the escalator to safe operation as soon as possible."

Once the city performs the weight test to determine how many people the escalator can safely carry, it will issue a final report.

Two other escalator companies have turned down the city's request to perform the brake test. City inspectors say they'll do it on their own if they have to.

Zsako said that the escalators at Coors field will remain off limits until the investigation is complete.

Denver's city attorney is drafting an ordinance requiring businesses to immediately report and shut down escalators that malfunction - no matter how small the problem. Since the accident, there has been a round o f escalator inspections at several other major venues around Denver, including the museums and Invesco Field at Mile High.

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