Long Beach, CA – Woman killed trying to escape stuck elevator at CSULB

According to the Daily 49er, the campus newspaper at Cal State University Long Beach, Annette Lujan, 47, of Huntington Beach, California, was killed around 9 a.m. Tuesday while trying to escape a stuck elevator. Lujan was on her way to work at the Office of University Research in the Foundation Building when the elevator became stuck between floors. Lujan apparently attempted to pry the doors open and climb up to the next floor to escape, when the elevator suddenly and unexpectedly moved down, crushing her. According to police, a bystander was attempting to help Lujan out of the elevator when the accident occurred. Read the full story by the Daily 49er, published December 6, 2011, as well as a follow-up by the Daily 49er, published January 22, 2012.

According to KNBC Los Angeles, an investigation by California OSHA determined that “misjudgment” was the primary cause of the accident. The four-page report noted that elevator was built in 1994, and was extensively tested by engineers after the incident, but they were “unable to determine the causal factors and their findings were inconclusive.” A section of the report titled “human factor,” cited “misjudgment of hazardous situation” as a major factor contributing to Ms. Lujan’s death. According to the report, the moment before the fatal accident occurred, the elevator car door opened about one foot below the third floor of the building, while the elevator continued to move downward slowly. The sole witness, a student worker, said she tried to help Lujan crawl out of the elevator when it crushed her, catching her neck and shoulders. Read the full story by KNBC Los Angeles, published June 26, 2012, or watch the video below.

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

Although elevator malfunctions and entrapments are uncommon, they are often extremely stressful for passengers that become entrapped. However, it is critical that trapped passengers call for help and wait patiently to be rescued by properly trained elevator personnel. Never try to pry the doors open if the elevator stops unexpectedly. Many newer elevators are equipped with “door restrictors,” devices which prevent passengers from opening the elevator doors when the car is not at a landing. Although door restrictors are required by current elevator code, they were not required in 1994.

Although elevators are designed not to run with the doors open, there are limited circumstances in which an elevator may move with the doors open, such as leveling, brake failure, or loss of hydraulic pressure. In these cases, for example, it is possible that the elevator was within the “door zone” defined by code to be approximately one foot above and below a floor, which is close enough to a landing to allow the elevator to move with the doors open. In the event an elevator’s doors open unexpectedly when the car is not at a landing, never try to climb or jump out of the elevator. Stand away from the doors and wait to be rescued by elevator personnel. Always assume that the elevator may move again unexpectedly if it has already malfunctioned. Until the malfunctioning cab has been secured by elevator personnel, there is no way to be sure the elevator is safe to exit.

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