Seattle Man Strangled by Shirt Caught on Escalator

ABC News' Stephanie Mendez reports:

A tragic accident left a 42-year-old man dead in a bus terminal in downtown Seattle on Sunday morning.

The Seattle Police Department said Maurecio Bell's shirt got caught on an escalator inside the Seattle University Station bus terminal. Police and medics arrived and were able to free him from the entanglement but it was too late.

Jeff Switzer, King County Department of Transportation spokesman, said Metro Transit is working with police and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to determine the cause of the accident.

"[Bell] appears to have lost his balance toward the bottom, and at the point where people are stepping off the escalator, he was laying flat. His clothing became entangled in the escalator," Switzer said.

Police said it is unknown whether Bell was intoxicated at the time of the accident, but that they did find an open bottle of brandy on him. Surveillance video shows Bell walking oddly onto the escalator.

Dave Wesser, communications manager for the Department of Labor and Industries, said that an inspection in December revealed safety concerns with the escalator that needed to be remedied. Metro Transit was given until March 27, 2013, to address these safety concerns but failed to do so.

According to the official inspection report, the seven areas that needed correction included making the stop switch cover operational, making the demarcation lights operational, replacing all the broken combteeth, updating the maintenance records, performing a step/skirt index performance test, installing a data plate on the exterior of the unit, and performing an annual clean-down and testing.

Wesser said the investigation will determine whether the accident could have been prevented.

Switzer said Metro Transit will continue to cooperate with the investigation.