The body of a woman killed in a freak elevator accident yesterday was not removed until nearly 7 p.m.—seven hours after she was crushed to death. And the other passengers in the elevator who helplessly looked on as she died were not freed for over an hour. When they finally got out, they were "in severe distress," Fire Lt. Glenn Berube tells the Post. But it took rescuers much longer to remove Suzanne Hart's mangled body from the elevator shaft.
Hart, a 41-year-old new business executive at Y&R (formerly Young & Rubicam), was stepping into the elevator in the lobby around 10 a.m. when the elevator suddenly shot upward. Police sources tell the Times "it dragged her until she was pinned between the elevator and the wall, between the first and second floors." Witnesses told CBS 2 the car went up halfway to the 2nd floor before the Hart's body stopped the momentum of the elevator. She was pronounced DOA. John Hanna, who owns a suit store next door to the building, told DNAinfo he heard "bloodcurdling yells" after the accident.
One employee who was in another elevator at the time tells NY1, "The elevator was either next to me or one over, I heard this loud 'boom, crash,' and the whole thing kind of shaked. I got off and I didn't really think too much of it, then I heard somebody died. It was pretty extreme. A couple of the girls on my floor were crying and really panicked."
Yesterday one employee told us, "It's an old building (Y&R has been here since the 20s). The elevators are slow and a bit buggy sometimes." A "city-government source" tells the Post the elevator was taken out of service in 2003 because of an unspecified "hazardous safety violation" but that had since been fixed. in June, inspectors found several unspecified “administrative” violations of safety rules regarding the elevators. City sources tells the Post the violations are still listed as “open” on Department of Building records but "appear to offer no explanation for yesterday’s tragedy."
It's not known why the elevator malfunctioned. But a former Y&R exec tells the Times the elevators were old and creaky: "They weren’t the kind of elevators that you stuck your hand in to catch the doors because they wouldn’t stop." Employees were told to work from home today, and Y&R issued this statement:
We are deeply, deeply saddened to confirm one of our employees has died. Our focus at this moment is the well being of our employee’s family and our larger Young & Rubicam family. As you can imagine this is a great emotional shock to all of us. We ask for your cooperation and understanding as the proper authorities look into this terrible accident.
Speaking briefly to reporters outside her Cobble Hill home last night, Hart's boyfriend Chris Dickson said, "She’s a beautiful person, and I don’t have words for this."