Good Samaritan Uses Pocketknife to Free Woman Caught in Escalator

Commuters take an escalator at Forest Hills Station on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015.

Chris Helms

Commuters take an escalator at Forest Hills Station on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015.

A quick-thinking JP resident who was luckily carrying her pocketknife saved a woman whose skirt had become caught in a Forest Hills Station escalator.

Andree Zalesk said it was 7:30 p.m. Monday when she saw a woman who had fallen on the escalator.

In a Facebook post, quoted here with Zalesk’s permission, the JP resident said the woman seemed like she was “a little drunk, tired and carrying too much stuff.”

“She and her bags were scattered all over the moving escalator,” Zalesk wrote. “Her skirt was caught in the machinery and I had to pull out my pocket knife to cut her out. I managed to get her onto the platform, gather the contents of her purse, and reclaim her two rolling suitcases. Then she went her way and I went mine.”

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said MBTA operations control received no report about the incident.

Getting clothing caught in escalators is no laughing matter — at least two people have been strangled to death on MBTA escalators in the last decade. In 2009, 82-year-old Helen Jackson died after her scarf became entangled with a people mover at State Street Station. Bystanders freed Jackson, but too late to save her. Last fall, her family agreed to a $500,000 settlement with the T. In 2005, Francisco Portillo of East Boston died when his clothes trapped him on an escalator at the Porter Square T.

The T offers these safety tips for navigating the system’s escalators:

  • When on escalators, please take extra care with children. If possible, hold children when riding escalator. When possible, use the elevator with small children, strollers, pushchairs, wheelchairs and buggies.
  • Please use caution when stepping on and off the escalator, especially when you are carrying luggage.
  • Stand to the right and hold onto the handrail.
  • Avoid standing near the edge of the steps.

[Editor’s note: Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader, we’ve fixed a typo in the headline.]