A Brooklyn man died from a malfunctioning elevator in Brooklyn on Friday morning, police said. Eran Modan, 37, originally from Tel Aviv, was in the elevator at 156 Hope Street, at about 4:18 a.m. when it got stuck between the lobby and first floor, several sources said.
Modan stuck his head out of the car to try to escape, but the elevator jerked, crushing his head and torso between the elevator and the basement ceiling and elevator shaft, according to reports. When emergency paramedics arrived, he was pronounced dead at the scene from trauma to his head and torso.
Modan was riding with four friends in the elevator at the time of the incident. Mona Ramsdell, a friend of Modan’s, was in the elevator with him when it started to malfunction. “We walked into the elevator and it just went down and it went up,” Ramsdell said. “Now my friend is dead because of it.”
According to reports, more than 10 people were inside the elevator at the time of the incident. However, that load should not put the elevator much over its weight limit of 2,100 pounds, which would amount to a 14-person limit. Additionally, the elevator braking system is usually designed to support at least 125 percent of listed capacity, the New York Times reported.
“The device brake was unable to hold the capacity load,” a city official said, adding that the city would conduct a full-load test before the elevator is deemed operable again.
Pez Epstein, 44, is a resident of the Hope Street building and said that the elevator has problems in the past. “They came to fix it maybe a month ago,” he said. “They’d come and fix it and it’d break again.”
The Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said his staff will undergo a thorough investigation on the elevator. They will look into if the elevator may have been overloaded at the time of the incident or if it was trying to level off properly at a floor, Chandler said.
The building received several complaints back in 2012 about the elevator jerking and the doors opening between floors, according to the agency.
A supervisor for P&W Elevators, the elevator maintenance company for the building, said he was “very surprised” by the incident. He added that the company does routine maintenance on the elevator.
According to Department of Buildings records, P&W has inspected the elevator at least five times since 2013 with the most recent visit in July. The elevator was deemed “satisfactory” after those visits.
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A thorough, detailed investigation into the cause of a malfunctioning elevator must begin immediately so that crucial evidence is not left unnoticed. The City of New York and its agencies cannot be relied upon to perform these types of investigations. Many times it is determined that improper building and maintenance permits were issued by the City and therefore liability is found against the Department of Buildings of the City of New York. Hiring the right lawyer to uncover negligent acts is the first important step.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an elevator accident, contact Jared Levine of Morgan Levine Dolan today.