Boston University lecturer, 38, 'was crushed to death by elevator when she overloaded it with a package

Rob Boudrie

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There was a terrible accident in the McCormick building of state offices when i was there around 1992. During rush hour in the am the elevator stuck halfway between the lobby floor and the next level. A guy tried to climb out and the elevator dropped severing his legs killing him. Tons of people were in the lobby. I walked through when they were cleaning up. I've never held a limb in a closing elevator since.
I was stuck in an office building elevator between floors in FL one night (the only building key work issued was to the elevator from the underground garage, so stairs were not an option after hours). I was able to pull the door open and climb out, but I pulled the emergency stop button so it wouldn't restart on me.

The elevator repair guy told me "good move" the next day when I saw him, and mentioned some building codes require that a stuck elevator between floors lock the doors so they cannot be pried open to discourage self help (ok, so those were not his exact words).
 

Spartan65

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Anyone in commercial construction knows how serious the elevator mechanics are about safe operation of the car and control of the elevator shaft at all times. There are many fail safe’s in modern elevators. I’m curious to know what really caused this. The elevator industry in Massachusetts is the extremely tight knit also so the details will probably never get out.
 

xjma99

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Elevator safety compliance office is probably next to the soldiers home safety compliance office.
I’ve dealt with MA elevator inspectors before. Your average illegal immigrant landscaper probably has more brains than the one I’ve dealt with on multiple occasions.
 
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I've been in plenty of sketchy elevators in MA. Cannot comment on the quality of inspections, but certainly the frequency leaves much to be desired (elevators 2 years past due for inspection were common due to some sort of shortage).
 
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Many years ago I worked in a 10 story building where we used elevators every day. One day an elevator repair man saw me hold the elevator by blocking one of the doors. He said, "You should never do that. Never trust those things."

As he said this, he pointed to a carpenter's hammer on his belt. The hammer was in a metal loop holster designed for quick access. He pointed to the hammer and said, "Do you think I use this to work on elevators? I wear this in case I need to block an elevator door. I would never do that with part of my body."

The fact that he wore a hammer all day, and the hammer was clearly not a tool for working on elevators, made an impression that I have never forgotten. I have been very careful around elevators ever since, and I have told this story lots of times where it seemed helpful.

When you see equipment operate safely every day, it is easy to forget how powerful it really is.
 

rep308

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Many years ago I worked in a 10 story building where we used elevators every day. One day an elevator repair man saw me hold the elevator by blocking one of the doors. He said, "You should never do that. Never trust those things."

As he said this, he pointed to a carpenter's hammer on his belt. The hammer was in a metal loop holster designed for quick access. He pointed to the hammer and said, "Do you think I use this to work on elevators? I wear this in case I need to block an elevator door. I would never do that with part of my body."

The fact that he wore a hammer all day, and the hammer was clearly not a tool for working on elevators, made an impression that I have never forgotten. I have been very careful around elevators ever since, and I have told this story lots of times where it seemed helpful.

When you see equipment operate safely every day, it is easy to forget how powerful it really is.

A coworker had the door close on his hand and smash his fingers. Fortunately when the elevator went to the next floor there was enough clearance that his fingers didn't get sheered off. He got away with a couple of broken fingers and I stopped inserting body parts to open doors after that
 

Bison

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I spent some time in Soviet Bloc countries just after the wall fell. The elevators in every apartment building were nothing more than an open platform. No enclosure, door, safety switches, anything. You saw the walls of the building and the door to each level slowly move by as the platform moved from floor to floor. You could reach out and touch them. A moment of inattention would lead to severe injury. It gave me a much better appreciation of the safety features we take for granted in the US. But, it is a great reminder that safety features do make us complacent and encourage us to abdicate our personal responsibility. I also used to run a manual elevator when I was in college. It was one of the coolest jobs I ever had.
 

ReluctantDecoy

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How heavy could the package have been if she was able to move it to the elevator by herself?
I'm betting it was lots of books, given her profession. Maybe in several boxes and that last one broke the system. Some of them are tiny, like 2 person cabs.

Those old metal gate elevators are terrifying. I'd sooner walk up.
 

SERE

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if i am not mistaking...those types of freight elevators need an OPERATOR's LICENSE to run. And for a good reason.
Possibly so in commercial buildings. I lived in a residence in Cambridge for over 10 years with an elevator with double doors. Reknotted, inspected and maintained like clockwork. It still sucked due to breakdowns.
 

m_n_x

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Sounds like she tried to stuff 3 grand pianos in the elevator.
I've lived and worked in that area for decades. Some of the elevators in those buildings are awfully decrepit though they sometimes refresh the cosmetics. Worst one was in a building in Kenmore square that could not have been 30" deep and barely fit two people side by side. I took the stairs going back down. I don't think it would take much weight to mess one up.
 

PappyM3

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I'm betting it was lots of books, given her profession. Maybe in several boxes and that last one broke the system. Some of them are tiny, like 2 person cabs.

Those old metal gate elevators are terrifying. I'd sooner walk up.
It was most likely a bulky item pushing on a switch on the door, making the door think it was closed. Rather than something heavy.
 

ReluctantDecoy

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It was most likely a bulky item pushing on a switch on the door, making the door think it was closed. Rather than something heavy.
That's plausible. Those gate elevators are sketchy. An ex girlfriend live in one of those buildings and that rickety elevator seems very low tech on safety. Gate did need to be closed, but I'm sure that system could be easily defeated.
 

Waher

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I visited a customer in Chile last year, one of the top 3 banks in the country. The elevator had one of those operators inside with his little chair to the side.
The Steinway Piano building on Boylston Street in Boston still had a little old lady with an Otis Elevator operator cap working there a decade ago. The manual safety cage and lever operated doors.
 

GlockJock

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When I was young and college, for extra bucks I worked part time as a parking lot driver for one of the old parking garages in Boston. The one I worked at (Bedford Street between Downtown Crossing and South Station, around the corner from the old Jordan Marsh, the Financial District etc) was like ten or twelve stories tall. The customer would pull up, exit their car and you'd give them their claim check ticket, hop in, drive their (sometimes fancy and my first time driving BMWs, Benz etc) car onto the old, decrepit, shabby "elevator", reach out from the driver's seat and press the button for a floor with an open spot.
Each floor had - was SUPPOSED to have - safety gates. The elevator itself had a safety gate also, which would open upwards, you'd drive off into the open spot then walk back into elevator and go down to get the next car (or maybe stop at another floor to get a car for a customer who had returned to claim their car).
The safety gates on each floor were ALWAYS malfunctioning, falling off, sometimes crashing down ten floors and sometimes atop the elevator you were riding in, with or without a vehicle to sit in. The CRASH would scare the piss out of you for the first couple weeks, then you "got used to it".
Several times over the couple years I worked there the elevator ITSELF would suddenly (with its "safety gates" down OR up) begin to drop. Sometimes a few inches, sometimes several FEET... I've always been one of those 'more balls than brains' guys anxt, like all my friends and coworkers at the garage, got some deranged "thrill" from it. (sorta like we did in the old neighborhood doing some sort of 'Evil Kneievel'-style jump with our bicycles from a small rooftop to the neighbor's or a vacant warehouse rooftop to the next one. Idiot kid stuff, my friends and I broke several bones among us not to mention screwing up our bikes then having to limp home and explain to Dad that a "sudden gust of wind" had knocked me (and/or my brother riding with me) ass over teakettle LOL.
My point is that of all the "daredevil" crap we ever pulled (jumping off the rocks at the Quincy Quarries, or grabbing the back of an MBTA bus in a snowstorm and 'sliding' all the way from Andrew Square to friggin Uphams Corner, etc etc), the most effin 'I'M FRIGHTENED AUNTIE EM!!!" moments I'd ever experienced involved that friggin Bedford Street Parking Garage elevator. And, and I'm NOT suggesting that a Boston Inspector might be negligent in this poor girl's death, just wondering aloud how recently, how frequently, and how in depth or meticulously the elevator in this Comm Ave building had been "inspected".

I do know this, and know it for a fact, that the old Bedford Street Garage received daily visits from the owner's "assistant manager" who drove a brand spanking new Cadillac and he'd come around every afternoon to pick up the daily proceeds. And the only other time you'd see "The Boss" was whenever the City of Boston "Inspector" was scheduled (or not and came in randomly) to "inspect" the elevators. Which he would do for roughly twelve or fourteen seconds per elevator, then stagger across the street to the old "PJ Barsanti's Lounge and Grill" for a little early afternoon "thirst quencher" and always left with a little something "extra" in his wallet - and not just from having not paid a dime for his lunch and beverages but also from the friendly "Thank you" card that The Boss ensured 'went to the right place".
Meanwhile, the next (and every) morning the cars would go up and down on an elevator that sounded like the "clickety click" of the old roller coaster climbing the big hill at the Paragon Park Amusements. And that elevator was - literally - one of the very very few times this "daredevil" felt more like the lion in the Wizard of Oz.
And I know from working delivery jobs around Boston (courier, etc) and from riding in some of those elevators that they were borderline - and I'm talking effin BORDERLINE - safe. And I'm just wondering if some Harold Brown-type landlord/owner of this building, or even Boston University if that's who owns it, might have been "contributing to the 401k or IRA fund" of the, um, "Inspector" from the City of Boston.

Just sayin'
 

nstassel

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Dennis in MA

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I spent some time in Soviet Bloc countries just after the wall fell. The elevators in every apartment building were nothing more than an open platform. No enclosure, door, safety switches, anything. You saw the walls of the building and the door to each level slowly move by as the platform moved from floor to floor. You could reach out and touch them. A moment of inattention would lead to severe injury. It gave me a much better appreciation of the safety features we take for granted in the US. But, it is a great reminder that safety features do make us complacent and encourage us to abdicate our personal responsibility. I also used to run a manual elevator when I was in college. It was one of the coolest jobs I ever had.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro3Fc_yG3p0


As an aside, I have a habit of reading the inspection dates whenever in an elevator. Amazing how often the inspections are expired upwards of a year. Sometime longer.

Damn. I was gonna see that Soviet Bloc and raise you the elevator in The Omen. Italy, if I recall. Definitely not Soviet Bloc. But definitely like the one illustrated by wussy-boy.

Damn. Can't find it on YT. It was so inconsequential. Peck is in the hospital and some nurse/nun is talking and then just jumps onto what appeared to be a SMALLER version of the video above. LOL
 

Picton

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How does one scream while being asphyxiated??? Something does not add up here...
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm thinking the asphyxiation was slow and crunchy. And the screams perhaps not all that long-lasting.

Every image in my head about this is terrifying, no matter what kind of spin my brain tries to put on it. Getting crushed in an elevator is on a par with getting rebar through the eye on my personal scale of horrific ways to go.
 

AHM

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I've seen basic rocker switches on some of the cage door elevators. If the box was big and awkward its possible it closed the switch while the door was open. 2nd error is hitting a floor button before everything was inside. Weight kind of seems like a stupid excuse
^ THIS.

if i am not mistaking...those types of freight elevators need an OPERATOR's LICENSE to run.
No reason whatsoever to think it's a freight elevator.
I think it was 11 Royce Rd. in Allston that we moved #1 Nephew in to
that had one of those Old French Movie kind of elevator-in-a-cage.

I think I saw an exposed microswitch on the slidey-door;
the failure mode didn't occur to me at the time.
But we probably only set foot in the building about four times:
move in, visit 1, visit 2, move out.
 

mibro

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Family friends lost an adult child to elevator doors that opened without the car there and she walked forward without paying attention.
My God. This is something I've always anticipated, I stand well back when the elevator is arriving. Just one of the reasons you couldn't pay me to live in a high rise.
 

drgrant

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My God. This is something I've always anticipated, I stand well back when the elevator is arriving. Just one of the reasons you couldn't pay me to live in a high rise.
I've seen enough snuff films involving people getting smoked on/by/falling into elevators that there is no way in hell I would ever allow a child to lean on or get near an elevator door unless it was otherwise opening into an arriving car. I have no problems using elevators but I've noticed most people get hurt by them doing stupid shit.

People are f***ing stupid. Like in this example, if it wasnt for this dude, that dog would be dead....

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjxVqi9AWlw
 
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