Skip to main content

Conveyer belt that killed 5-month-old wasn't moving at first, officials say

By Al Goodman, CNN
updated 7:14 PM EDT, Fri September 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The conveyer belt did not start moving until after the mother placed her baby on it
  • The child was fatally injured by the carousel's rollers, authorities say
  • The mother, an American, also had another young child with her

Madrid (CNN) -- The conveyer belt of a baggage carousel that killed a 5-month-old at an airport in Spain was not moving when his mother set him on it, a Spanish Civil Guard spokesman in Madrid said Friday.

But soon afterward it started moving, and the child was carried to the end, where his head was injured by the carousel's rollers, said the Civil Guard spokesman, who by custom is not identified.

The infant's mother, an American, arrived at the Alicante airport late Wednesday on a flight from London's Gatwick airport with her baby boy and another young child, said a spokeswoman for Spain's airport authority, AENA.

The father, who is Canadian, was already there waiting at the Alicante airport, she added.

An unidentified security guard at the airport told CNN affiliate Atlas she didn't see the incident, but was told that "the mother apparently put (the baby) down on the conveyer belt when she went to reach for something. He was crushed by the conveyer belt and it killed him."

With the baby bleeding, officials summoned airport medical personnel, who rushed to the scene but were unable to revive the infant, the Civil Guard spokesman said.

The carousel for oversized luggage is a flat, black rubber-type belt that moves in only one direction, ending with a series of horizontal rollers that slow the luggage to a stop, for pickup. It's several feet long and passengers can stand on either side of it or at the receiving end, said the airport spokeswoman, who by custom is not identified.

The Civil Guard spokesman said the baby's weight activated the motionless conveyor belt and started it moving, but the airport spokeswoman, citing a baggage worker, said Friday that the belt is not activated by weight.

A day earlier, the spokeswoman said the conveyor belt is activated only when oversized bags are sent out on it for pickup.

"I don't know what happened," the airport spokeswoman said. "The Civil Guard will determine that after the investigation."

After the baby was pronounced dead, the family had to wait for a judge to arrive, by Spanish law, so that the body could be moved. Civil Guards took statements from the parents at the airport, the airport spokeswoman said.

The Civil Guard says it is treating the incident as an accident.

The baggage belt for oversized luggage -- which includes infant car seats and baby strollers -- is at one end of a large baggage claims hall at the Alicante airport, which handles 9 million passengers a year, the spokeswoman said.

The baggage carousel is in a secure area, and passengers go through it to claim their bags before they exit into the public arrivals hall. The father of the baby would not have had access to that area, the airport spokeswoman said.

Civil Guard and National Police spokesmen in Alicante confirmed the nationalities of the mother and father as American and Canadian, respectively.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported the family had come to the Alicante area, on Spain's Mediterranean coast, for vacation, but authorities would not immediately confirm that.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 8:15 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT