Family shocked by 'horrific' death at Fabre metro
Published Friday, January 31, 2014 12:19PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 31, 2014 9:40PM EST
The Quebec coroner's officer is conducting an autopsy to retrace the events leading to the death of Naima Rharouity, the 47-year-old mother of two who died when a piece of her clothing became entangled in an escalator at the Fabre metro Thursday morning at about 9:15.
CTV Montreal spoke to a member of the victim's family - a family whose name has also been spelled as Rhertouity - who acknowledged the loss of their loved one in what they called a "horrific accident."
The family member said they are still waiting to learn more about the circumstances of the accident and still don't know what happened.
So far it appears Rharouity fell as the escalator was going down. When her scarf got stuck, it tightened around her neck and strangled her.
She was the mother of two boys, aged eight and five. She came to Canada about one-and-a-half years ago, according to a source close to the family. Her husband had just left for Morocco Thursday to deal with his mother's death.
Witnesses could not help
Police report that nobody saw the incident and that victim was wearing a hijab at the time, which eventually got stuck in the mechanism.
It is not known whether she first tripped or collapsed due to some sort of illness before getting entangled or whether she was pulled down after her clothing got tangled in the mechanism.
On Friday friends expressed shock and sadness over the fatal tragedy. The Projet Villeray dans l'Est, was among several who expressed their condoleances online. Rharouity, who took part in a mother's circle, was seen smiling in a series of photos on the group's Facebook page.
Other users of the Fabre metro also expressed shock when interviewed by CTV Montreal.
"It seems sort of like you're supposed to be careful and you're always told that you should be careful -- for that to actually happen is shocking actually," said one man at the station on Friday.
One passerby was with her daughter when she saw the woman.
"I saw her lying on the ground. I felt like screaming out, but I held it in because my daughter was with me," said the woman. "I covered [my daughter's] eyes."
The escalator at Fabre metro station remained closed Friday, more than 24 hours after Rharouity's scarf became tangled in the mechanism.
Police spent much of Thursday examining surveillance video in an attempt to determine the sequence of events, without much success.
"The investigators looked at the different views of the cameras of the STM and they weren't able to determine exactly the sequence of events that led to the death of the woman," said Const. Daniel Lacoursiere.
There are reports the first person to call emergency crews about the accident left the area before authorities arrived.
Paramedics said it was regrettable but there was nothing they could do.
"I can recall a lot of accidents in the escalators in the metro over my career, but I've never seen anything quite like this," said Robert Lamle.
Escalators throughout the metro system are subject to regular maintenance, but those who work on the machines said people always need to pay attention.
Brent MacMillian of the International Union of Elevator Constructors said people tend to forget safety because escalators are so commonplace.
"It's just horrific to think that it could happen again," said MacMillan. "I mean, loose clothing is one of the worst items for accidents on escalators, so we have to be more aware of the environment, and I think people should be taking them much more seriously than they do."
The death also lead some people to make hateful remarks concerning the victim and the Muslim religion over the internet, a fact which didn’t escape the attention of the Quebec Collective Against Islamophobia.
“We had never seen this type of hatred and words inciting violence. The social climate is deteriorating at an incredible pace,” said director Adil Charkaoui.