New details in death of 3-year-old who fell from airport escalator

He was playing with his two siblings when he grabbed hold of the escalator.

Authorities in North Carolina are shedding more light on the tragic September escalator accident that left a 3-year-old dead.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say that on the evening of Sept. 25, three children were playing near an escalator at the baggage claim in Charlotte Douglas International Airport, unsupervised. Police say they can substantiate their claim with surveillance video that captured Lightner and her children “from the moment they got off the plane..until the childs [sic] fall from the escalator.” In the hour before the fall, police say the children can be seen playing near or on the escalator while the mother is nowhere in view on the video.

Right before 9 p.m., 3-year-old Jaiden Cowart and his sister can be seen grabbing hold of the escalator railing from the outside and holding on as it goes up.

Police said the girl fell and a witness was able to catch her. But another camera at the top of the escalator shows Jaiden’s hands nearing the top when he appears to lose his grip and fall 20 feet, police said.

An airport worker wrote in a separate report that he saw the boy suffer “major trauma to the head.” This worker said he called for a medic while “frantic” passengers swarmed the scene, asking him to “do something.” Police said Jaiden was laying in “a large pool of blood.”

Jaiden was taken to Atrium Health Hospital where he died three days later.

Lightner told ABC Affiliate WSOC in October that she and her kids had returned home from a trip to Florida and that they were picking up luggage when Jaiden went up the escalator and fell.

Police said Lightner “allowed substantial risk of physical injury…by allowing the child to play, unsupervised, on an airport escalator.”

Lightner told police that she was sitting on the stairs, watching her other children when Jaiden fell to the floor.

Lightner was arrested two weeks ago and was charged with three counts of misdemeanor child abuse, according to records from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. She was released from jail the same evening.