Photo: Wikimedia Commons
New York City officials say maintenance workers who failed to enable an elevator door’s safety circuit were responsible for the death of an ad executive at Young & Rubicam who was crushed between the Manhattan building’s first and second floors just one minute after they left the premises.Suzanne Hart, a director of new business content and experience at Young & Rubicam, attempted to enter her office building’s elevator at 9:56 a.m. on a Wednesday last December when the elevator spontaneously accelerated upward, its doors still open. The swift motion caused Hart’s knees to buckle as she fell forward, trapping her between the first and second floors. Hart died on the scene, and two passengers were trapped in the elevator car for an hour until they could be rescued.
A joint investigation by the Department of Buildings and Department of Investigations showed that had maintenance workers from Transel Elevators taken proper safety precautions after bypassing the door safety circuit with a jumper wire, the elevator would not have abruptly accelerated upward, doors wide open.
The report read that the Transel employees, “failed to follow basic safety procedures before the incident, such as placing caution tape across the elevator’s door jamb, and notifying DOB to inspect the elevators before putting them back in service, as required by the New York City Building Code.”
This assessment was made after reviewing surveillance tapes and interviewing witnesses creating a chilling timeline of the events leading up to Hart’s death.
As a result, the city suspended Transel owner John Fichera’s licence and will seek to have it revoked. Transel, which services 2,500 elevator units in New York including the BMW Building and Carnegie Hall, was also given 23 violation notices with a minimum penalty of $117,000.
In a statement, Y&R said:
This has been a difficult time for all of Y&R as we mourned the loss of Suzanne Hart and looked for answers. The Department of Buildings’ definitive findings that Transel workers were at fault finally give us closure. We will always remember Suzanne. And we thank everyone who has supported us throughout this time.
According to the U.S. Bureau of labour Statistics, 27 people die in elevator accidents a year.
After spending 85 years in the Madison Avenue building, Y&R is set to move to 3 Columbus Circle in 2013. The historic move away from Madison Avenue was announced prior to the accident.
In fact, Stuart Elliott of the New York Times noted that the move was a symbolic attempt to “revitalize the Y&R brand after a period of turnover in clients and senior management.” Y&R’s New York office has experienced the turnover of 15 CEOs in the last 13 years.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.