Escalator Strangles Woman

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Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 10:29am

Tangled clothes choke elderly woman after fall.

An 88-year-old woman was strangled to death when her clothes got tangled in the treads of an escalator she was riding at the Long Island Rail Road station in Lindenhurst, New York Tuesday.

"A preliminary investigation and autopsy concluded that the woman fell on the escalator, her clothing became entangled and she was asphyxiated," LIRR spokesman Sam Zabuto said in a statement.

The victim was identified as Irene Bernatzky of Lindenhurst, whom neighbors described as healthy and sprightly for her age.

She often walked to the train station from her house and frequently visited her daughter, who lives in Manhattan.

That's where she was headed Tuesday afternoon when she fell on the escalator, according to neighbors.

"Every day, we'd see her walking up and down the block," said neighbor Gerri Hewitt, describing Bernatzky as a "friendly" and "lovely" woman who knew all the neighborhood children's names.

Regular commuters at the Lindenhurst station told NBC News the escalator often seemed to be out of service and mentioned issues with the handrails, but LIRR officials said Wednesday the escalator has been inspected monthly and is maintained in "good operating condition."

The last inspection of the escalator before Tuesday happened on February 9th, according to a service log.

During a maintenance procedure that day, mechanics replaced a broken upper-left comb plate.
 

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