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The reasons for being out of his car are still being investigated, but a man at an Escondido, California, car wash died Friday after being discovered trapped between car wash equipment and his car. Escondido is just north of San Diego in San Diego county. The car wash is a self-serve automatic setup, open 24 hours. This car wash accident happened around 11:30 PM.

What happened to the man involved in the car wash accident?

Automatic car wash
Technician observing automatic car wash | Getty

Customers heard a loud alarm blaring for about 30 minutes. One of them decided to investigate what the cause of the alarm might be. When the man in the car wash was discovered, the customer called 911 emergency. After police arrived, they found the trapped 56-year-old man.

They were able to remove him from between the equipment and his car, which was a 2014 Scion XB. But to free the man officers had to lift it off of him. According to KUSI News, they then performed CPR after finding him unresponsive. He was transferred by medics to a local medical center where he died a short time later. 

Police say the car accident is technically considered a traffic collision instead of an industrial accident. The reason is that the man was in control of the car the entire time. This type of car wash does not pull the car along automatically while in Neutral. But police say no crime was committed. 

“It appears the car wash had not been activated”

Automatic car wash
Rotating brushes at a car wash | Getty

There is security video that the police are looking at. While it is obvious the man got out of his car at some point during the wash, as of now the police don’t know what led to him getting out of his car. “It does not appear the car wash had been activated at the time of the collision,” police said.

With over 16,000 car wash businesses in the U.S., accidents are bound to happen, but not result in death. Still, there are three main types of automatic car wash systems. Some use a conveyor belt, which catches the car’s tire and pulls it through the wash. 

Another type is called in-bay automatic. These require the driver to pull into the bay, then sit stationary while the machine moves back and forth. They’re mostly found at gas stations. Self-service stations are the type that you pull into and wash the vehicle yourself.

What is the most common automatic car wash accident?

Automatic car wash
A car enters an automatic car wash | Getty

Most accidents inside of car washes involve cars colliding with each other. Either due to mistakenly being in Drive or Reverse, resulting in a collision, or a pile-up inside due to belt slippage or the car becoming dislodged from the track. And there are multitudes of stories about cars having their paint damaged for various reasons.

According to ambulance chasers, the most common injuries are from whiplash from a collision. Though traveling slowly, this type of injury happens with some regularity. People have also been burned or electrocuted from bare wires or connections to the equipment. 

Less frequent accidents result in pedestrians being injured within proximity of the entry or exit. Another is from slipping or falling with the mix of soap and water on the ground. To be safe, make sure your car is in Neutral, keep your foot off of the brake, and don’t get out of your car.