First the escalator grabbed little Monique Simpson’s jacket.
As her mother struggled to wrench the 3-year-old free, the protective guard broke and the churning stairs swallowed the child’s right foot at the Vine City MARTA station.
Then the machine crushed her toes, clenching in a painful grasp that led to the amputation of Monique’s foot, according to a lawsuit from her parents.
The suit, filed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court, alleges that MARTA and the escalator manufacturer, Schindler Elevator Corporation, are liable because the machine wasn’t maintained to be safe during the March 24, 2016, ordeal.
MARTA declined to comment because the litigation is pending, and Schindler Elevator’s attorney couldn’t immediately be reached. Contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Sharonta and Moses Simpson, also chose not to comment.
But the Simpsons’ lawyer, Andy Cash, detailed the case in the complaint.
The suit says a MARTA service worker hit the shut-off switch, but Monique was so entangled by then that rescuers had to call for the Jaws of Life.
During it all, the child was conscious and alert, in excruciating pain.
Desperate rescuers called a doctor at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston to phone in a prescription for Fentanyl, one of the strongest painkillers available. The drug is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
It was administered while she was still trapped at 5:30 p.m.
The Atlanta Fire Department used the Jaws of Life at 5:44 p.m., more than half an hour after the escalator first tugged at Monique’s coat.
She was rushed to Children’s Healthcare.
She had surgery that day.
The surgeon, Dr. Robert Bruce, took note of her injuries in the process. She had a “horribly contaminated crush injury” running from the back of the heel pad to the long bone of the pinky toe, the lawsuit said. The muscle above her ankle was pulled from the bone, along with nerves and veins.
Bruce said the foot couldn’t be saved.
The child required multiple subsequent surgeries and now has a prosthesis, the suit said.
The parents are suing for damages to be determined in court.
Suggested video: 5 things to know today, Feb. 22
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.