The escalator at Bellevue Square that malfunctioned in a "pileup" Thursday night remained closed Friday.
Kris Lilly was on the escalator when the incident happened and pushed the emergency stop button.
"I just kept hearing this crash, crash, crash,” said Lilly. “I looked up and I see the steps are piling on top of each other.”
Lilly says a holiday performance called “Snowflake Lane” had just ended. With the escalator packed full of people, the steps started buckling underneath them.
"I ran over and hit the emergency stop button and then up to try to move the steps because I thought someone was underneath it,” he said.
Under an agreement with Macy's, the 30-year-old escalator gets serviced by Schindler. A company spokesperson said Friday the cause of the malfunction remains unknown.
Washington State Labor and Industries said an escalator that is 30 years old needs to be inspected at least once a year, more often for high traffic ones. For example the ones at the airport are inspected quarterly.
"This is just short of a pretty good disaster,” said Jack Day, the state's chief escalator inspector.
He said his staff checked the one at Bellevue Square Mall last February and found only a light problem.
"We check to see when it was last examined, maintained and safety tested,” said Day. He said inspectors will dismantle the escalator piece and piece, to see if they can pinpoint the problem.
The incident has made people pause to consider their safety on something many of them took for granted.
The last time a pileup like this happened causing injury was in 2010 at a business building in Lake Forest Park.
The state has 22 inspectors in charge of checking 600 escalators around the state, except in the cities of Seattle and Spokane, which inspect their own.