Last week, a 37-year-old man was crushed to death when trying to escape a stalled elevator at a luxury rental apartment building in Brooklyn. Now, an elevator in another section of the development has been issued a violation for failing a critical brake test.
Around 4 a.m. on Friday, October 2nd, Eran Modan and a group of friends (reportedly anywhere from 10 to 14 people) were in the elevator of the Espoir, a luxury rental at 156 Hope Street in Williamsburg. With the doors still open, the elevator fell to the basement and, after waiting, Modan stepped out—just as the elevator "shot back up to the lobby." Modan died at the scene.
Residents at the building said the elevators would "rattle" and require fixes. One told us about being stuck in stalled elevators—once for 45 minutes—as well as experiencing the same "elevator with doors open suddenly falling then going up" ordeal as Modan and the group did last week with far fewer passengers.
The Department of Buildings is investigating the death, but an elevator technician has been blaming the passenger load while the building's management company, Goose Property Management, has called the tragedy "an act of God."
However, the NY Times reported:
The capacity of the elevator, the only one in the building, is 2,100 pounds, the city official said, putting it on the smaller end of New York City elevators. That would amount to a 14-person limit, elevator engineering consultants said, based on standard weight estimates.
But those experts also said braking systems were typically designed to hold at least 125 percent of capacity.
“The device brake was unable to hold the capacity load,” the city official said, adding that a full-load test would be conducted before the elevator could be used again.
Michael Fagan, the managing partner of JSG Elevator Consultants, said the fact that the cab had dropped from a standstill at the lobby level suggested the braking system had malfunctioned, though he cautioned that he could only speculate based on the information that had been released publicly.
“It sounds to me like the brake slipped, or the brake wasn’t sufficient to hold the car,” Mr. Fagan said. “It should have held it at the floor.”
He added, “The question is, was there a mechanical or design defect with the system?”
The Espoir complex also includes buildings at 140 and 146 Hope Street, and at 140 Hope Street, residents were greeted with a DOB violation for the elevator there:
"Elevator did not pass 125% brake test"
The elevator did not pass the 125% of capacity load brake test. A resident at 140 Hope Street said the elevator was as bad as 156 Hope Street, "It often broke down every other week."
We have contacted Goose Property Management for comment. In the meantime, the 140 Hope Street resident has been using the stairs, "More healthy and less sketchy."
Update: A resident at 156 Hope Street says that there are building staffers who are working 24/7 to assist them since the elevator is out. Goose Property Management sent them this email:
Good evening Residents,
This email is a follow up on the elevator being out of service.
Please be advised that management is still working on the investigation together with the NYC Department of Buildings and Elevator Company. While we have gotten further we do not have a timetable as to when the elevator’s functionality will be restored. We will keep you closely posted.
For the time that the elevator is out of service we do have available staff to assist you with transporting packages, strollers and luggage to and from the lobby.
We thank you for your understanding and patience.
Goose Property Management