Good Samaritan in Escalator Accident: "I wish I could have been a few steps faster"

PORTLAND, Ore. - In the video that shows a Spokane grandmother tumbling down an airport escalator in her wheelchair, you also see a man who drops everything to try and help her.

In June, Bernice Kekona was traveling back to Spokane from a visit to Maui. Her family arranged a gate-to-gate escort through Alaska Airlines, but she was left unattended. Her family says the escort left her; Alaska Airlines says she went off on her own.

Kekona thought she was getting on the elevator, but realized her mistake. As she tried to pull back, her wheel was caught and she tumbled down the escalator, still strapped in her wheelchair. She survived, but suffered injuries all over her body. Those injuries included a cut to her Achilles tendon, which never properly healed. Three months after the incident, doctors amputated her leg to stop the infection; she passed away the next day.

In surveillance video of the incident, you see a man coming up the other side of the escalator. He sees what’s happening and immediately springs into action. He drops his suitcase, sprints down the escalator and eventually hops over to the other side to try and break Kekona’s fall. He then stays and helps other bystanders lift the wheelchair, which takes about a minute.

Kxly4 News found the man in the video. His name is Ezra Merrill and he lives in the Portland area. Until we contacted him this week, he was not aware that Kekona had passed away. 

In an email to kxly4 News, Merrill said, “I am very sorry to hear that she passed away… the only thing I wish to add is that I wish I could have been a few steps faster and been able to stop her.”