Jacob Helvey was only three years old when the new elevator just installed into his home malfunctioned and caused serious injuries. Jacob decided to try the elevator for himself and he opened the outer door. But he could not open the secondary door and the outer door wound up trapping him in between the two doors. After a horrific ride and ten minutes of his mother and neighbors trying to free him, Jacob was left with severe brain damage and will never be able to move again.
The truly disturbing part about the Jacob Helvey accident is that the elevator industry knows about the defect in design that allows the outer door to close without the inner door opening. It is a situation that has caused lawsuits and rarely seen public service announcements. Unfortunately, the lack of government regulation in the elevator industry means that the manufacturers are not really held accountable for their design flaws and elevator accidents, and the public pays the price.
Regulation In The Elevator Industry
According to ConsumerWatch.com, government agencies such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps statistics on elevators such as the fact that an average of 27 people per year dies and 10,200 people are hurt in elevator accidents every year. Despite the dangers that elevators can pose, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not regulate the elevator industry in any way and takes no action to ensure product safety.
The CPSC is the first agency to force auto manufacturers to recall vehicles for potentially dangerous defects, but the CPSC issues no recalls on elevators or elevator parts. The only way to bring problems with elevators to light is through a personal injury lawsuit, but it can be difficult to win a personal injury lawsuit against an elevator company.
The lack of government oversight for the elevator industry means that the people who use elevators must rely on the integrity of elevator manufacturers for their safety. For the most part, elevators are considered to be very safe. But when elevator accidents happen due to issues that were well-known in the industry, then that can be frustrating to the victims and their families.
Five Tragic Elevator Accidents
The most common types of elevator accidents occur when an elevator does not line up properly with the floor it is stopping at, or when the mechanism fails and the elevator is sent falling down its shaft. Elevator accidents have been happening since the 1900s and people should be aware of the potential issues that they face whenever they step onto an elevator.
The Fall Of Isaac Jordan
Isaac Jordan was proud to be a successful lawyer and a member of the House of Representatives for the state of Ohio. In 1890, Mr. Jordan was talking to a friend in his downtown Cincinnati, Ohio law office with his back to an elevator when he had not noticed that the elevator door did not close completely. As he was still turned to talk to his friend, he stepped through the open door which leads to an empty elevator shaft. He died as a result of the fall.
Jerry Fuchs was a well-known drummer who preferred to work with acts such as Turning Machine and Moby. On November 8, 2009, Fuchs was attending a concert in a Brooklyn venue when he got stuck in the elevator. Many people who get stuck in malfunctioning elevators get impatient and try to rescue themselves, which is what Jerry Fuchs tried to do. He tried to jump from his stranded elevator and wound up falling to his death.
The story of James Chenault should act as a reminder that elevators can malfunction at any time and should always be treated with respect. James Chenault worked in the Kingsbridge Welfare Center in the Bronx for 20 years, and for 20 years he rode the same elevator. On the morning of January 6, 1995, that elevator malfunctioned and rose quickly to the second floor where it stopped at a point that was uneven with the floor itself. Mr. Chenault was holding the door open with his body and helping people off the elevator when it suddenly rocketed upwards and killed him.
Elevators Are Not Toys
Some of the worst elevator accidents in history were not the result of elevator malfunction but were instead brought about by irresponsible people. Louis Moffit was a BASE jumper (jumps off public structures without permission) who went to the Toronto Four Seasons Centre to BASE jump in the structure’s large auditorium. Before jumping in the auditorium, Moffit decided to try to ride one of the elevators from the top floor to the bottom while standing on top of the elevator. His BASE jumping gear was entangled in the elevator equipment and Moffit was strangled to death.
The World Trade Centers
On September 11, 2001, 200 people were killed in the elevators of the World Trade Center buildings as they were using the elevators when terrorists slammed passenger jets into the buildings. That tragedy remains as the largest elevator disaster in the world’s history.
When an elevator shows signs of malfunctioning, it is best to stay away from it and use the stairs. If you are in an elevator when it is malfunctioning, then remain where you are and contact help. There is no government regulation when it comes to elevators and elevator parts, but there are plenty of safety issues for people to be aware of at all times.