Presented with the choice of either taking the stairs or riding the elevator, most of us choose the elevator. After all, why climb all those stairs when you can get to your destination so much faster and easier, not to mention, sweat-free. And yet some people will always take the stairs, no matter how many floors they have to ascend. Are they just being paranoid? You could say that. Studies indicate that elevators are extremely safe and elevator-related deaths are extremely rare. In fact, research shows that on average, there are only 27 elevator-related deaths a year. However, elevator accidents affect about 10,200 people a year. Still, when you think about it, elevators make about 18 billion trips a year so the chances of being in an elevator that malfunctions are very slim.
To prevent accidents, most elevators have a ton of safety features built into them. For example, an average elevator will have significantly more cables holding it up than it actually needs. All elevators will also usually have an automatic braking system at the top and bottom of the shaft. Plus, a heavy-duty shock absorber system at the bottom of the shaft is supposed to save elevator passengers if all else fails.
It is said that elevators are considered to be the safest mode of transport in America. And yet elevator accidents do occur. Some elevator accident stories we see in the news have happy endings. However, the majority of them do not. Below we have a list of fifteen horrific elevator accidents that will most certainly make you want to avoid them.
15. Man Decapitated In An Elevator Accident
In 2003 a horrific elevator accident occurred inside Christus St. Joseph Hospital’s George W. Strake building, Texas. Apparently, one of the building’s elevators was closed for four days due to ongoing repairs. A woman named Karin Leah Steinau, a physician’s assistant, took the stairs on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, noticing that the out-of-order sign was gone from the elevator doors, she pressed its call button. Standing near her was surgery resident Hitoshi Christopher Nikaidoh. He was waiting for an elevator beside the doctor’s lounge. Steinau moved closer to Nikaidoh. From her experience she knew that the elevators were slow and she always took the one that came first.
The elevator closer to her came first, and she stepped in. Nikaidoh asked her if the elevator was working again and Steinau replied that she hoped so. Nikaidoh was stepping into the elevator when the doors closed, pinning his shoulders. The elevator started moving before Steinau could find the “Door Open” button. Nikaidoh tried to wriggle out but to no avail. As the elevator kept moving up, the ceiling sliced most of Nikaidoh’s head. Steinau was stuck inside the elevator with Nikaidoh’s head for over an hour before the rescue team arrived.
14. Minato Ward Elevator Accident
In 2006, a male high school student entered the residential apartment complex in Tokyo and got on the elevator. His female friend who lived on the 13th floor boarded the elevator with him. The male high school student was on his bicycle and had his back to the elevator door. When the elevator stopped on the 12th floor the male, who was still sitting on his bike, tried to exit the elevator backwards. However, as he was exiting the elevator started to ascend even though the elevator doors were still open.
The student’s head and legs were caught inside the elevator whereas his back and torso were caught outside the carriage. The student’s friend reacted immediately by pressing the emergency button which reported the accident to the apartment complex disaster center. The personnel at the emergency center called the emergency services and the emergency services personnel removed the student from the elevator about forty minutes later. However, the student died shortly after as a result of suffocation.
13. Trapped In An Elevator For A Month
On January 30th, 2016, an elevator got stuck between the 10th and 11th floors of an apartment building in the Gaoling district in the city of Xi’an. A maintenance crew was called in to inspect the elevator. Not bothered to open the elevator doors, the crew simply yelled from the 11th floor to see if anyone was stuck inside. They did not hear an answer and thus cut off the power supply, leaving the elevator stuck midway.
The maintenance crew returned a month later (after the Lunar New Year holiday), finally prepared to fix the elevator, and found a body inside the elevator. The body was that of a woman who lived alone in the apartment building and who, according to her neighbors, had a history of mental illness. It is believed she had been dead for over a month. After the incident, two members of the maintenance crew were arrested.
12. Man Dies In An Elevator Accident On His Way To A New Year’s Eve Party
On New Year’s Eve in 2015 a man was on his way to a New Year’s Eve party in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. However, he never made it to the party due to an elevator accident that resulted in his death.
The man was in an elevator with a woman when it began falling down the 26-floor building. The man managed to push the woman out of the elevator just in time. However, his good deed resulted in him getting stuck in the roof of the elevator, his legs hanging from above. He screamed in pain and even though he was rescued shortly after, his injuries were too severe. He died in the hospital. It has been reported that the elevator had many maintenance issues before this accident occurred but the building owners never bothered to resolve them.
11. Crushed To Death At The Gym
In 2003, a Polish banker named Katarzyna Woja was crushed to death when she was stepping out of an elevator at Broadgate Health Club in London. As the woman was stepping out of the elevator, she was dragged between a wall and the lift. The elevator then suddenly fell a few feet and stopped between two floor levels.
Apparently, this was not the first time that specific elevator had experienced malfunctions. ThyssenKrupp Elevator company admitted that it failed to maintain the lift in accordance to its contractual obligations. The company also failed to properly investigate the cause of the elevator’s previous sudden failures. ThyssenKrupp Elevator was sentenced in court but the cause of the elevator accident is unknown. As one can imagine, Katarzyna’s husband was heartbroken. He said that he did not only lose Katarzyna but also a life partner, a wife and a friend. He and Katarzyna were about to start a family.
10. Elevator Drops After All Four Cables Break
In 2013, an elevator in a commercial building in Hong Kong malfunctioned. The elevator had just passed the first floor on its way up when all of its four cables broke at the same time. The elevator’s emergency brake did not work either. Seven passengers were in the elevator during the time of the accident. All seven passengers were rescued by firemen but three were severely injured. Thankfully, the height involved was not great. Otherwise, the accident could have been fatal.
It’s rare for all four cables to break at the same time. If there had been any damage to the cables, maintenance crew should have detected it during a routine maintenance check that had been carried out two weeks before the accident. The cables have to be changed if they show more than ten percent damage.
9. 85-Year-Old Nun Stuck In An Elevator For Four Nights
In 2011 an 85-year-old nun got stuck in an elevator in Baltimore. Her sisters had gone out of town for a convention and she was left alone in the convent. As a result, when the elevator got stuck there was no one there to know any better. Sister Margaret Geary of Notre Dame de Namur was trapped in the elevator for four nights and three days before she was rescued.
Her phone had no signal and she could not pry the elevator doors open. Thankfully however, she had a jar of water and celery sticks with her. When she ran out of water she realized that she had cough drops in her pocket. She used them to stifle her thirst. Sister Margaret spent most of her time praying and even said that the experience was a gift because it brought her closer to God.
8. Mother And Baby Fall Down The Elevator Shaft
In 2016, a 21-year-old mother from Brooklyn was about to get on the elevator with her one month old baby. When the elevator doors opened, she pushed the stroller in but the elevator carriage was not there. Both the mother and the baby fell down the shaft. The mother survived but was severely injured. The baby died.
It is believed that the elevator carriage stopped between the 22nd and the 23rd floors when the doors opened. The mother and the baby fell several feet down, landing atop the elevator carriage. Prompted by the push, the elevator proceeded to descend to the 15th floor where it came to a halt. The mother screamed for help and a rescue operation began. It is thought that the elevator was out of service when the accident occurred. It has been revealed that the building had numerous elevator violations over the past 15 years.
7. Woman Decapitated After An Elevator Malfunctions
In 2013, a 24-year-old Chinese nurse named Wang was riding an elevator in Changhong Technology Tower in Shenzhen’s Luohu District when it suddenly stopped working due to failure. Since the elevator doors were open, Wang tried to make her escape. However, just as she was getting out, the elevator started to move again, trapping Wang.
The elevator plunged at least three storeys down, although some witnesses say it was in actual fact twenty-two storeys. The woman’s body was trapped inside the elevator whereas her head was caught outside the carriage. During the fall, her entrapment caused decapitation. There were four other passengers in the elevator who were splattered in Wang’s blood. Magically, none of them were reportedly injured. Five people were held responsible for the accident. The five people held responsible were employees of Hangzhou Tongda Elevator Engineering Co. Ltd.
6. Elevator Falls 12 Floors Due To Overload
In 2014 a factory building’s lift in Hong Kong was so overloaded that the brake system failed to stop the elevator from falling down. The elevator fell 12 floors and injured 29 people. Apparently the elevator in question could only carry 21 passengers. It has been revealed that 13 passengers were already inside the elevator when it stopped on the 12th floor and 18 more passengers entered. The overload alarm began blaring immediately. Two lucky passengers managed to jump out the elevator before the lift gave in and dropped almost 30 meters.
The whole incident lasted about ten seconds. The elevator had been last inspected nine months before the accident. And even though the accident occurred because of overload, it has been found that the German contractor ThyssenKrupp Elevator had failed to adequately maintain the elevator.
5. Elevator Falls, Killing Two And Injuring One
In 2015, an elevator in South Jakarta broke down, killing two passengers and injuring another. The accident took place in the Arkadia office complex in TB Simatupang. Three passengers had boarded the elevator on the third floor and were heading to the seventh floor. However before the elevator could reach the seventh floor the cable of the elevator snapped.
One passenger died at the scene, another died shortly after he was admitted to the hospital. The third passenger survived but suffered major injuries. It is unclear as to why the accident occurred but it was most likely caused by human error. A regular maintenance check had been carried out only days before the accident. According to the maintenance crew, the top of the elevator was rusty but the issue had been fixed before the accident took place.
4. Mysterious Elevator Accident
An elevator accident that occurred in 2017 in the Willemswerf building in Rotterdam resulted in one man killed and another severely injured. The police reported that the elevator shot upwards after the cable connecting the counterweigh broke. However, the fire department is puzzled and think of the accident as a bit of a mystery.
According the fire department, if the counterweigh came loose, the elevator would have plunged down, hit a trap and gotten stuck. Instead, the elevator went up at a high speed and got stuck between the 17th and 18th floor of the building. Special equipment was used to rescue the people inside the elevator. However, a 54-year-old man was killed and his 35-year-old colleague was severely injured. Both men had worked as subcontractors in the building.
3. Indian Man Crushed By An Elevator
In 2013, a 44-year-old Indian man was delivering liquid propane gas when he was crushed by an elevator. At the time, the man was finishing up his deliveries in an apartment building in Devara Jeevana Hall in Bangalore. He had just completed his delivery on the ground floor and was about to go up to the first floor to collect payment. When the elevator doors opened, the man stepped inside but the elevator carriage was not there and he fell down.
The man was then promptly crushed by the elevator carriage that had descended seconds later. Witnesses state that the man was crushed badly and that they could only make out his hands and pools of his blood. Those that were present during and shortly after the accident attempted to lift the elevator carriage off the crushed man with crowbars. The accident occurred due to a malfunction.
2. Woman Crushed By A University Elevator
In 2011, a woman died in an elevator accident that occurred in the Foundation Building of Cal State University Long Beach. The 48-year-old woman (who was a mother of two) was an employee at the University and was riding the elevator when it suddenly got stuck. The elevator doors were wedged open between the second and third floors and the woman decided to try and crawl out onto the third floor.
However, as she was trying to make her escape the elevator started to suddenly move again. It has been reported that the woman was halfway out when the elevator that weighed over 900 kilograms crushed her. The elevators were last inspected a year before the accident took place and no problems were found. However, a couple of university employees confessed that the elevators had not been working that well over the past couple of weeks.
1. Cheerleader Prank Results In An Elevator Accident
In 2008, 26 teenage cheerleaders were attending a cheerleading camp at the University of Texas when they decided to have a little bit of fun. A little bored no doubt, they crammed themselves into an elevator at Jester Residence Hall. Their goal was to see how many of them could fit inside one elevator.
The elevator descended to the first floor but because it was so overloaded the doors would not open. The cheerleaders made a few panicked phone calls. Police and fire fighters arrived promptly at the scene. It has been reported that it took the repairmen about 25 minutes to fix the elevator doors. The staff of University of Texas did not find the prank was funny at all so it is doubtful they’ll hold cheerleader camps any time soon.