Eleven-year-old Lisa Cox is still in pain after her hand was stuck in an escalator in Santa Ana on Sunday.
“Feels like when someone is shocking you with something over and over, like every five seconds,” Cox said.
Cox, her cousin and older sister had just been dropped off at the MainPlace Mall to see a movie when the girls hopped on an escalator.
“We were going down, and I looked down and my shoe was untied,” Cox said.
Then she realized her shoelace was caught in the moving steps.
“So I tried pulling my shoe string out, and I finally got it out, but then I fell backwards,” she said.
Nearing ground level, she attempted to pull herself up using the moving handrail, but she lost her balance, and her hand was pulled under.
“It felt like somebody was sucking my hand up with a vacuum or something. Then I just heard this sound and my hand went underneath,” she said.
Cox was trapped. Her older sister screamed for help while her cousin pushed the emergency shutoff button.
“He clicked it once to see if it would work and it didn’t happen, so he tried it again, didn’t work, so he started spamming it until it stopped and it never stopped until this man was like, ‘Are you OK? What can I do?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know, try to stop it.’ So he sits on it and my cousin slaps it with his finger really hard and it finally stopped,” she said.
By the time rescuers arrived, her forearm was almost fully wedged in the base of the handrail.
“When I opened the mall door, I could hear her screaming. I was trying to get to her as fast as I could,” said Lisa Roush, Cox’s mother.
It took more than an hour of work with specialized rescue tools to free Cox. She was then rushed to the hospital.
Roush believes the escalator had a faulty shutoff button.
“It should have stopped the first time that it was pushed and it didn’t,” Roush said.
The mall has defended the shutoff button in a statement.
“It is important to note that the escalator was in full compliance with safety requirements; it functioned properly, and it shut itself off as it was expected to do. We have reviewed the CCTV footage of the incident, and that video confirms that the safety switch did exactly what it was intended to do to prevent further injury,” the statement said.
The mall would not allow KTLA to view the footage, and the family says they are contacting an attorney.