ST. PETERSBURG, FL (AIP) – Six unfortunate shoppers were trapped for nearly nine hours at the Tyrone Shopping Mall’s Macy’s Department Store Friday when a critical system providing power to the escalator failed, trapping the shoppers between the first and second floors.
“It was a nightmare,” said Sherry McIntyre. “My 7-year old and I were trapped with the others halfway between floors. I was terrified.”
Eventually St. Petersburg’s elite Fire and Rescue Unit arrived at the scene.
“We’ve trained for exactly this type of disaster,” said unit Lt. Martin Mayhew. “Our team sprung into action, set up a block and tackle arraignment through a steel girder in the ceiling then team members literally swooped in from above and plucked the at-risk shoppers off the escalator and deposited them in the men’s section of Macy’s.”
Four of the shoppers were slightly injured in the rescue. They were transported to Bayfront Medical Center, treated and released.
"Any time there is a tricky rescue, there's a chance of injury," said Mayhew.
“About five hours into the ordeal my 7-year old Kyle asked me why we couldn’t just walk back down the escalator stairs to the first floor,” said McIntyre. “He’s way too young to understand the dangers involved. It was crazy talk. “
The National Transportation Safety Board rushed a team to the site and is expected to release a report about the catastrophic failure this week.
“We’re just glad everyone is okay,” said Macy’s store manager Margaret Van Houten.