Plunge down elevator shaft kills man on his birthday

Plunge down elevator shaft kills man on his birthday

June 4, 2011 11:12:39 PM PDT
One moment he was celebrating his 25th birthday, the next he was dead.

It was supposed to be a night of fun inside the apartment building at 7th and Chestnut Street in Center City.

But it was scene of tragedy after a 25 year old man fell down an elevator shaft to his death.

"You can't change destiny and fate, but certain things like that shouldn't happen," said one witness.

Police say the victim was celebrating his birthday and had been drinking throughout the evening when he left his 5th floor apartment and tried to take an older elevator to the first floor to get more of his friends.

He pulled the gate opened but the elevator wasn't there. He stepped in and plunged four floors, landing on the top of the elevator.

Firefighters worked for an hour to get to the man. He later died at Jefferson University Hospital.

Building officials were on the premises Saturday inspecting the elevator. Maintenance records for the elevator are being reviewed.

Police and the department of Licensing and Inspections are still investigating the incident to determine the exact cause.

Pete Sierra says he's not surprised to hear about what appears to be a freak accident.

"The other day, my sister was walking into a building in New York, and she opened up the door and there was no elevator there, luckily she looked," said Sierra.

There is supposed to be strict upkeep on all elevators in the city. Investigators are trying to figure out if that elevator malfunctioned or was it just operator error.

"If it wasn't inspected properly, monthly, it has to be maintenance," said Nicole Stallone.

These types of deaths are rare in the state of Pennsylvania. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics says, 30 people are killed in elevator accidents each year nationwide. Maintenance is usually to blame.

"It just it comes to maintenance," said Sierra. "Maintenance is something that is overlooked now days."

Police have not released the name of the victim.