‘There was blood everywhere’ – Little girl’s toe gets stuck in an escalator

2018-03-27 14:30
PHOTO: Martin de Kock

PHOTO: Martin de Kock

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There's a reason why you shouldn’t ride an escalator barefoot – as one Gauteng family recently discovered.

On a Saturday in January just after the schools opened for the year, the Hartzner family – mom Marinda, dad Henno, daughter Marelize (8) and son Ruan (11) – visited The Glen shopping mall in Alberton, east of Johannesburg, to buy Marelize a new schoolbag.

As the family were making their way up the escalators from the first to the second floor, young Marelize, who was standing in front of her mom and dad, suddenly screamed. The little girl’s little toe had become wedged between the edge of one of the stairs and the metal side of the escalator.

“Henno and I grabbed Marelize and yanked her foot free from where it had got stuck. There was blood everywhere – all over the escalator,” Marinda says.

We’re chatting to the Hartzners at their home in Kliprivier, near Alberton. Marelize is still at school. Marinda says she’s extremely relieved that the only consequence of that dreadful day is a small scar on Marelize’s foot.

The fact that her child was barefoot hadn’t occurred to her at the time. She knows Marelize had been wearing flip-flops earlier in the day, but apparently she’d left her shoes in the car when they arrived at the mall.

“There were about six stairs left before the top. Marelize had turned around to say something to her dad when she suddenly started screaming hysterically. She couldn’t talk and just kept screaming,” Marinda recalls.

“I panicked and also started screaming. That’s when my husband and I saw Marelize’s toe stuck in the escalator.

“I screamed for someone to press the emergency stop button but everyone just stared at us. Henno and I grabbed Marelize and yanked her foot free.”

When they got to the top of the escalator Marinda picked Marelize up and pressed down on her foot and toe to try to stop the bleeding. Henno ran to get bandages, cotton wool and plasters from a nearby shop. While they waited for him to return, a woman came to help stop the bleeding with tissues. While she was helping Marelize, she calmed Marinda down.

“The woman told me to breathe deeply and to calm down. I sweat profusely when I’m tense and sweat was dripping from my face. The woman handed me a tissue to wipe my face. I wish I knew her name so I could thank her.”

Ruan, upset at seeing his sister in distress, had also started crying.

When Henno returned they put Marelize in a shopping trolley, took her to the car and drove her to their GP.

“I sat with her in the back, holding her foot. She’s such a small girl with such tiny feet.”

Their GP quickly soothed their fear that Marelize would lose her toe, giving the young girl, who now has a fear of escalators, sweets and stitching up her foot. She needed nine stiches.

Ever the little fighter, Marelize took part in the school’s athletics meet just a short while later. “She ran with a wiggle-waggle. She didn’t come last, but she didn’t win – that’s my child,” Marinda says.

Thinking back on it now, Marinda says she could kick herself for not realising Marelize wasn’t wearing shoes on the escalator. “She’s always been a barefoot child, playing around on the farm barefoot. She even went to school barefoot. But now she always wears shoes.”

Read more on:    girl  |  accident  |  hospital

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