An elevator that led to a woman’s death was serviced only hours before the catastrophic accident, according to the New York Times. Tragedy struck when 41-year-old Suzanne Hart, an advertising executive at Young & Rubicon, was crushed between an elevator and the elevator shaft wall when the elevator malfunctioned. As she was stepping onto the elevator on the first floor of the 285 Madison Ave building, it abruptly shot upwards while the doors were still open and Hart was still entering the elevator. According to New York City Buildings Department investigators, electrical maintenance was being performed on the elevator mere hours before the accident occurred.
Hart was a director for new business and content at Young & Rubicon, one of the city’s top advertising agencies. Her body was only able to be retrieved about nine hours after the elevator malfunction, and bystanders reported that the scene was gruesome. When the accident occurred at around 10am, two other people were on the elevator. They were both uninjured but had to be treated for psychological trauma. According to reports, Hart’s boyfriend, Chris Dickson, somberly said, “She was a beautiful person. I don’t have words, don’t have words for this. I loved her.”
Elevator accidents are often caused by negligence or other human error, as they are normally considered to be extremely safe. The elevator company, Transel Elevator Inc., released a statement saying, “Since Transel was founded in 1989 the safety of our elevators and the security of those who use them has been, and continues to be, our top priority.” The last elevator-related death in New York City was in September, when a Transel technician was killed in an elevator accident, falling from the 10th floor of a building at 230 West 38th Street. Interestingly, My Fox NY reports that the Buildings Department released a list of the top ten most dangerous elevators in the city (by violation) in 2008. The Madison building in question, despite having more violations (56) than many on the list, was not included in the top ten. According to the New York Times, the International Union of Elevator Constructors has been trying to get a bill passed which requires licensing for elevator technicians, as this is not a current requirement.