Mount Vernon, NY – 11 year-old boy falls down elevator shaft

According to NBC New York, an 11-year old boy fell three floors down an elevator shaft around 12:30pm on Sunday, December 9, 2012. According to police, the victim and other young boys were playing in the building hallway when “the elevator doors unexpectedly opened and one of the boys fell in”. The condition of the boy was not immediately clear, but presumably the boy was hospitalized and sustained serious injury.

Read the full story by NBC New York, published December 11, 2012.

The description of the incident according to police and according to NBC New York indicates that the boy was rescued through the roof of the elevator car. Given that, the elevator doors could not have “unexpectedly opened” in the sense that the doors themselves opened. Rather, based on the description of the accident, involving boys playing in the hallway, it appears that the victim likely struck the door with force, causing the door gibbs to fail, causing the lower retaining door gibbs to break away, thus allowing the bottom of the hoistway door to swing open into the hoistway enough to allow the boy to fall into the open hoistway.

This is similar to the case in which a wheelchair-bound man in Korea crashed his motorized wheelchair into elevator doors, causing the door gibbs to fail, and causing the man to fall into the hoistway. Interestingly, Korea requires that hoistway doors bear a sign with a pictograph that depicts the hazard created by leaning on, or otherwise applying force to, hoistway doors. This appears to be a case in which the hoistway door was forced to bear excessive forces and ultimately failed, exposing a member of the public to the potentially fatal hazards of the hoistway.

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