NEW YORK (WPIX)—Macy's flagship store in New York City's Herald Square is again being criticized for allowing hazardous conditions to exist -- this time after a 4-year-old boy's finger was completely severed by a wooden escalator.
On Friday, Maxlee Gell-Tejada, accompanied by his mother and father, dropped a bottle of water at the base of the first-floor escalator and reached down to pick it up. A sharp edge of the escalator sliced through the pinky on his right hand, and his horrified parents quickly recovered the finger and packed it with ice.
His mother Natalia Gell-Tejada stated surgeons "couldn't recoup some of the veins that make the finger move," but it will be a few days before doctors know whether the procedure succeeded.
In recent years, two other children have also had the fingers injured by the old escalators -- in use since 1927. In October of 2005, a four-year-old girl lost her index finger when she fell at the top of the third floor escalator, and a two-year-old boy nearly lost his left thumb, which was partially severed in December of 2006.
According to department of buildings violations, the Macy's flagship store has been guilty of shoddy escalator upkeep for years. In just the last two - records show Macy's owes more than $48,000 for failed escalator inspections.
"If I were their CEO I would be very disappointed," said Council Member Erik Delan, who chairs the city's Building and Housing Committee.
Delan says there is no excuse for Federated department stores, the Macy's parent company to ignore such a backlog of escalator violations.
"The volume of violations is obviously concerning," said Delan. "But I would think a company of the stature of Federated should have the ability to clear these violations and the resources to clear these violations."
Macy's isn't the only store with open escalator violations, but it certainly has the highest profile.
Since 2008, the Herald Square location has been cited for dangerous razor sharp steps, worn out chains, tripping hazards and even failing to report an escalator accident. Inspectors have also hit the Queens Center Mall for failing to report an accident along with broken steps and worn rollers.
Midtown's Manhattan mall has multiple open violations including damaged handrails.
Lawrence Saftler, who represents clients injured in escalator and elevator accidents, believes Macy's has a backlog of open violations because the Herald Square department store has not replaced a decades old escalator system.
"The cost of maintaining something that old is a greater burden than something that would be brand new," said Saftler. "So it just makes sense that they either change it or maintain it considering its age."