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Coroner investigates death of woman caught in escalator

A transit official looks at an escalator where a woman lost her life in Montreal on Jan 30, 2014. She died after an article of clothing got caught in the escalator.


An investigation continued into the death of a woman who was strangled after her scarf and hair were caught in the mechanism of a Montreal subway escalator.

The Quebec coroner's office identified the victim as 47-year-old Naima Rharouity.

A community organization in Montreal's Villeray district took to its Facebook page to express its condolences. Projet Villeray dans L'Est identified Ms. Rharouity as a mother of two. The woman was of Moroccan descent and was a volunteer with the community organization.

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"We heard with great sadness of the death," the statement said. "Condolences to her family and friends."

Earlier, coroner's spokeswoman Genevieve Guilbault said in an e-mailed statement that a coroner has been assigned to investigate and that an autopsy was planned for Friday.

The exact circumstances surrounding the death have not been established. Investigators reviewed a surveillance video that yielded no firm answers.

"The cause of death is still unknown," police said Friday.

Authorities have said the incident occurred around 9:15 a.m. Thursday, near the end of the morning rush hour. A police spokesman said the woman was travelling down the escalator toward the subway platform when her scarf became trapped.

Firefighters found her at the bottom of the escalator and tried to revive her. Ambulance technicians followed suit, but she was declared dead at the scene. An ambulance service spokesman said the victim was actually trapped in the escalator mechanism, which remained a focal point of the investigation on Friday. Some transit users left flowers for the victim.

Coroner Paul Dionne is investigating with Montreal police and the Regie du batiment, the body which enforces the province's building code.

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A spokeswoman for the Montreal transit commission offered its sympathies to the families and relatives of the victim. Isabelle Tremblay said in an e-mailed statement it was the first time "in recent memory" that a death has been linked to an escalator at one of the agency's subway stations. Ms. Tremblay said no further comment could be given because an investigation is underway.

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