A man was reportedly playing around on an escalator at a Providence, Rhode Island, mall when he lost his balance and plummeted to his death in what officials are calling an accident, WPRI reported.
The victim, 45, walked onto the escalator from the top floor of Providence Place Mall on Monday night, ABC 6 said. He was near the mall’s movie theater and a Dave and Buster’s when he fell to the food court below, authorities said, according to the news station.
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“It’s quite a big drop,” said Providence police Maj. David Lapatin, NBC 10 reported.
A witness told police the man had been "clowning around" and “riding the rail of the escalator.” Then as he reached the downward slope of the handrail, he fell backwards and hit his head on a table, WPRI reported.
The victim, who’s from nearby Pawtucket, was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, ABC 6 reported. WPRI reports the fall left him with severe head trauma.
He isn’t being identified until his family is notified of his death, ABC 6 said.
Authorities are calling the fall an accident, WPRI reported. They say there’s no indication that he fell on purpose or that someone pushed him, the news station said. But police are still investigating.
“We want to watch every possible one that’s out there, whether from the mall or phone cameras,” Lapatin told NBC 10. “But right now, we are leaning toward an accidental death.”
Lapatin told the news station the man probably didn’t expect to lose his balance.
“I’m sure, even if he was fooling around on the rail, he didn’t think he would fall over,” he said. The message is just too obvious. If you want to ride the escalator, ride the escalator.”
The company that owns the mall called the man’s death “heartbreaking,” NBC 10 reported.
The mall has seen a handful of deaths since it opened in 1999, including deadly escalator falls, according to The Associated Press.
A Derry, New Hampshire, man died after he jumped between escalators and fell in 2006, the AP said. Jeffrey Englert reportedly jumped from an escalator going down and tried to grab the handrail of one going up. But he lost his grip and fell one story, police said at the time.