Have you ever had a nightmare in which your dream-self is forced to take an elevator? Maybe the stairs are broken or your subconscious never presented another egress option, but either way you find yourself alone and waiting for this unassuming death trap to rattle up to your floor. The situation doesn't seem terribly unusual to you, a person who successfully takes elevators all the time in waking life, so you do not exercise vigilance. Instead, you wait with your back to the sliding doors, and distracted by some more interesting detail your sleeping brain concocted, you fail to notice the gaping void when the car pings open. You step blindly into the empty shaft, tumbling through black space only to jolt awake in your bed, sweaty and confused.
Minus the surprise ending, this scene is typically the purview of TV melodrama writers' rooms, in times when characters need to be killed off, and of cartoons. Unfortunately, it's also a real-life thing that happened to a Manhattan man on Tuesday morning, but get this: He survived.
As WABC-TV reports, a 49-year-old man attempted to take the elevator from the third floor of his building on Mulberry Street in SoHo, just after 8 a.m. today. When it arrived, per WABC-TV, "He stepped into the open shaft, but there was no elevator there." He tumbled all the way down to the basement.
The FDNY dispatched rescuers, who retrieved him from the elevator shaft. While a spokesperson noted that the department doesn't speculate as to the events that precipitate accidents, he noted that the man was in stable condition when first responders found him, and that he was transported to Bellevue Hospital for the treatment of his injuries.
The unnamed survivor was lucky. Last week, a security guard at JFK was crushed to death by a freight elevator. In Coney Island, one apartment building's elevator has claimed the lives of both a grown man and an infant. And an elevator in a luxury Williamsburg development once fatally crushed a man who tried to escape when its brakes went on the fritz. Meanwhile, the elevators at certain subway stations present a known "public safety threat."
Unfortunately, escalators present their own hazards.