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Every day, New York residents use elevators. However, they do not often expect that these elevators can suddenly and unexpectedly malfunction, resulting in injury or wrongful death. Such was unfortunately the case for a New York woman in December who was killed when the elevator she was entering shot up, crushing and killing her. Now, five elevator mechanics who were responsible for maintaining the safety system during the accident have been fired, and the license of one of the co-owners of the company in charge for maintaining the safety system of the elevator has been suspended.

Investigation into the incident has revealed that a key component to the elevator’s safety mechanism was disabled at the time of the accident, after being bypassed half an hour before the accident to enable work on the elevator, despite conflicting claims that the safety system was fully operational during the incident. The mechanic who had previously bypassed the system gave what he said was the bypass wire mechanism to investigators, claiming he had it on his person during the incident. However, investigators suspect this wire wasn’t used for the purpose of bypassing the security system.

While the wrongful death of the woman in this accident is tragic, elevator malfunctions are rare in New York. In 2011, only 43 accidents were reported, and in 2010, 53 were reported. Still, a person harmed or killed in such a manner is one injury or death too many. While it remains to be seen how any criminal or civil proceedings in connection with the fatality are resolved, the case demonstrates the immense devastation that can occur when maintenance protocol isn’t followed properly.

Source: Huffington Post, “New York City Elevator Accident: 5 Transel Employees Fired After Suzanne Hart’s Death,” Jennifer Peltz, March 1, 2012