In a city like New York City which is full of high rises and skyscrapers, it's difficult to avoid using an elevator. In fact, for many city residents, taking an elevator is likely something they do several times a day. This fact makes the recent tragic elevator accident that resulted in the death of a 25-year-old Bronx man all the more shocking and terrifying.
On New Year's Eve, several passengers boarded an elevator car in an apartment building on the Lower East Side. While inside, the car stalled, forcing building residents and guests to pry open the doors to escape. Moments after helping a 43-year-old resident climb safely out of the elevator and onto the third floor, the 25-year-old man became trapped as the elevator suddenly began descending.
As those both inside and outside of the elevator car frantically attempted to free the man, he gasped "I can’t breathe." Witnesses dialed 911 and emergency response workers were able to free the man who was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was subsequently pronounced dead.
For the building's residents, the majority of whom are low-income immigrants, news of the man's tragic death were unfortunately not entirely a surprise. According to records from the Building's Department, since 2012, three violations had been issued related to the elevators, none of which had been resolved at the time the accident occurred. Residents also detailed numerous problems with elevators stalling, failing to open and not working.
The accident remains under investigation. Building owners and landlords who fail to ensure that vital components within a building are regularly inspected and maintained should be held accountable. In this case, residents contend there were "dozens of complaints about the 26-story building's elevators." Sadly, it appears as though those complaints are only now receiving the attention they warranted.
Source: The New York Times, "Man Crushed by Elevator at Building That Had a History of Complaints," Noah Remnick and Benjamin Mueller, Jan. 1, 2015
Gothamist, "'These Are Death Traps': Man Crushed By Notoriously Faulty LES Elevator