If you've ever had a hard time visualizing a nightmare elevator death scenario, the Daily News is here to help. To supplement its reporting on the death of 25-year-old Stephen Hewett-Brown, who was fatally crushed when a LES elevator malfunctioned on New Year's Eve, the News hired a guy to act scared inside an elevator. SEE IT: Man's Tragic Death Commemorated By Crappy Sensational Video Reenactment.
Before this video existed, it was difficult to adequately understand what it would be like to die in an elevator malfunction. Now, thanks to the scary stock music, foreboding footage of an elevator shaft, and award-winning acting, we'll be taking the stairs for life. Your move, Taiwanese Animators.
Hewett-Brown, a Bronx resident, was killed in an elevator malfunction shortly before midnight at 131 Broome Street on the Lower East Side. The elevator had stalled slightly below the third floor, but residents, who say the building's elevators often have problems, pried open the doors and climbed out. Hewett-Brown reportedly hoisted one woman to safety and wished her a happy New Year moments before the elevator rapidly jolted downward, crushing him between the roof of the elevator and the floor.
There have been dozens of complaints about the 26-story building's elevators over the years, and the Buildings Department reports three open violations for elevator defects that had not been fixed since they were spotted in a 2012 inspection. Residents had filed multiple complaints about the elevators "dropping" several floors.
"It could’ve been any of us," one resident, who's lived in the building for a decade, tells the Times. “This is nothing new. I’m scared to use the elevator now.”
The NY Post reports that the building is co-owned by the city and the Archdiocese of New York’s Catholic Charities; it's one of three towers built in the early ’70s as part of the city’s Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. “We’ve been asking the archdiocese and the city for new elevators for years,” one tenant tells the Post. "These are death traps. The archdiocese has connections, they had tens of millions of dollars to fix this place. But they never replaced the elevators. Where did the money go?"
Buildings manager Wavecrest Management said in a statement. "We express our sincere condolences, to the family. We, and our elevator company, are actively working with the New York City Department of Buildings and the NYPD to determine the underlying cause of this tragedy."
Tragically, Hewett-Brown had not planned to go out on New Year's Eve; the News reports that his girlfriend, who was with him when he died, had persuaded him to attend a party with her on the LES. "His girlfriend wanted to see her friends, and he went with her," one source tells the tabloid. "She kept saying, ‘He didn’t want to go out. This is my fault. He didn’t want to go out.'" To be clear, the only person or persons at fault here are the ones responsible for maintaining the elevator, and, arguably, a toothless city inspection system that lets landlords openly flout violations for years despite numerous complaints.