A woman died in a New York City elevator accident Wednesday morning in her Madison Avenue office. Apparently, Suzanne Hart was simply walking onto the elevator when she was caught as the elevator sped upward, crushing her in between floors.
Sources with the buildings department told WCBS-TV that Hart fell forward and was crushed between the fast moving elevator and the wall above it. “We saw people running out of the building, everyone screaming, ‘Call the cops,'” witness John Hanna told WCBS-TV.
Two other people, who were on the elevator as the accident happened, were taken to the hospital to be evaluated for psychological trauma, said The Associated Press (AP), after witnessing the horrific death. It seems as if neither was physically harmed, according to officials with the police and fire department.
According to public safety and law enforcement officials, Hart was stepping onto the elevator when her foot became caught in the gap between the door and the lobby floor; the elevator car rose suddenly, with the doors still open, dragging Hart upwards, wrote The AP. Elevators are typically equipped with safety mechanisms that should prevent them from moving when their doors are open, said investigators with the City’s building department, who are trying to piece together what occurred, said the AP. CBS News said that it remains unknown if a sensor failed.
Hart, 41, worked at a 26-story midtown Manhattan office close to the Grand Central Terminal and was employed by Y&R (formerly Young & Rubicam) an advertising agency, AP explained. Hart was a director of business development and lived in Brooklyn, said the AP.
There are 13 elevators in the building and the elevator involved in this accident has been taken out of service pending completion of the investigation. The investigation will be looking at the mechanics of the elevator, said WCBS-TV. Meanwhile, Y&R very recently announced it would be vacating the building for new headquarters, said the AP, citing a spokeswoman with the firm.
Tony Sciafani, a buildings department spokesman, confirmed that the elevator was inspected this June; no safety issues were found, said the AP. According to Sciafani, the elevator received a safety hazard violation in 2003, but that was corrected, he said.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who said he was very troubled by Hart’s death, said, “I’m very concerned that over a 12-month period, this building received unsatisfactory four times on inspections to their elevators,” wrote WCBS-TV. Stringer said he has been pushing for more posted information on elevators for years. “So right now, the inspection was an unsatisfactory, but was it for a missing light bulb in the elevator or was there real structural damage that perhaps could have caused this horrific accident?” Stringer asked, wrote WCBS-TV.
Hart’s father told The New York Times, by telephone, that his daughter was “the most marvelous daughter imaginable. No father could have ever been more proud of her,” The AP reported. “She was a beautiful person,” said Hart’s boyfriend Chris Dickson. “I don’t have words, don’t have words for this. I loved her,” Dickson added, said WCBS-TV.