Naima Rharouity was strangled by scarf at Fabre Metro, coroner finds

In a report released Thursday, Quebec's coroner detailed the circumstances leading to Rharouity's death and made a series of recommendations about improving safety in the Montreal Metro system.

STM, Montreal's transit authority, could do better job at maintaining its escalators, says report

Naima Rharouity left behind her husband and two young children when she died on Jan. 30, 2014. (CBC)

Naima Rharouity's death last January at Montreal's Fabre Metro station was caused by her scarf getting caught in the escalator, Quebec's coroner has found.

In a report released Thursday, the coroner detailed the circumstances leading to Rharouity's death and made a series of recommendations about improving safety in the Montreal Metro system.

According to the coroner's report, Rharouity's scarf, coat and hair got stuck in the escalator. The injuries she sustained when her hair got stuck in the escalator contributed to her death.

"The woman was strangled by her scarf and her scalp was lacerated by the teeth of the escalator before the machine stopped," the report concluded.

Recommendations to STM

According to information the STM supplied to the coroner’s office, the escalator at Fabre was inspected and maintained regularly. However, four incidents involving falls or clothing caught in the stairs have happened since 2012.

The coroner also looked more broadly at the Metro system. In a sample of 20 escalators — a fraction of the STM’s 298 moving staircases — the coroner noted 24 incidents. Two of them involved clothing, while most of them involved falls.

The STM unveiled its new safety campaign. Its ads implore Metro users to avoid running on the escalators, letting go of baby strollers, sitting on escalator steps, among other measures. (STM)

It said that the number of incidents is relatively low taking into consideration that the STM has 68 Metro stations with escalators, and that 1.3 million trips are taken a day on the Metro.

However, the coroner reported, the STM should improve its escalator maintenance program.

"Although it is not statistically dramatic per se, it seems there should be greater attention paid to the usage and maintenance of escalators," the report read.

STM reacts

STM spokeswoman Isabelle Tremblay said the transit agency came up with the same recommendations in its own report into the incident.

"The escalators were not [the cause of] this accident. They are already maintained rigorously and regularly in our entire network, therefore the maintenance is already there, and it's done," Tremblay said.

The STM has also launched an awareness campaign in some stations about using escalators safely. 

Meanwhile, Tremblay said it will continue to look for ways to improve maintenance but insists the practices in place are sufficient to keep passengers safe.