[UPDATES BELOW] One person is dead and two people injured after an elevator accident in a Madison Avenue office building around 10 a.m. this morning. The incident happened at 285 Madison near East 40th Street, in a building where advertising agency Young & Rubicam has offices, among other agencies. Three people were in the elevator when it fell two floors, but the FDNY could not immediately provide details on the extent of the injuries. (An FDNY source tells City Room the two injured people are "not badly hurt.)
Department of Building records show the building has been cited for elevator violations over the years, but nothing recent. The Times notes that after eight decades on Madison Avenue, Young & Rubicam, along with several other agencies, is planning to leave the building and move to Columbus Circle in 2013.
Update: A worker in the office tells us he received this memo shortly after the accident: Just before 10am this morning an accident on the elevators occurred. Three people remain trapped. Emergency personnel are operating on the scene. We ask everyone to remain in their current location. Do not use the elevators at this time. We will provide further updates as soon as we have them.
Update 11:15 a.m.: One Young & Rubicam employee tells us, "There is some shock in the building; I'm not sure if they are surprised though. It's an old building (Y&R has been here since the 20s)... The elevators are slow and a bit buggy sometimes, but nothing that would hint that they would fail. I noticed some bouncing, and sputtering in one of the cars, but I cannot confirm that this is the elevator that failed."
Update 11:20 a.m.:
Officials tell NBC New York an unidentified woman was "crushed" between the elevator and the ceiling. She was reportedly "halfway onto the elevator when it took off without its doors closing."
Update 12:03 p.m.: The FDNY has not yet identified the woman who died, but officials say she was 41-years-old.
Update 12:42 p.m.: An FDNY official tells DNAinfo the woman was crushed when the elevator rapidly shot upward and pinned her between the first and second floors. A different elevator "dropped two stories, causing the one she was getting into to shoot up. Firefighters were unable to immediately get to her because she was stuck between the first and second floors." ABC 7 reports that a 36-year-old woman and a man were treated for trauma after witnessing the incident.
CityRoom reports that the woman has been identified as Suzanne Hart, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. According to LinkedIn, she was director of new business content and experience at Y&R.
Liz Dennebaum, who works for direct marketing agency Wunderman (which is owned by Y&R), tells us, "One of my coworkers was trying to get into building, and she says there was a lot debris and broken tiles on the ground floor." Dennebaum spoke to us on her way home, having decided to work remotely for the rest of today. "I'm really shaken up," says Dennebaum. "It's a shock to hear that this could happen. I'm a native New Yorker, and I've never heard of an elevator falling like this in 30 years. I feel horrible for the woman who died, and her family."
John Hanna, who owns a suit store next door to the building, tells DNAinfo he heard blood curdling yells after the accident.
Unfortunately, it's not entirely unheard of for elevators to fall in NYC, but fatalities like this are infrequent.
Update 12:54 p.m.:The Daily News elaborates that she was pinned between the elevator and shaft wall as it dragged her up two floors, and "the two other people inside the elevator looked on in horror. Then suddenly, the elevator fell back down to the ground floor — taking the doomed woman and two other people with it, the sources said."
Update 4 p.m.: An FDNY official tells City Room, "Her foot or her leg are heading into the elevator while the door is open. Her one foot is in the car; but then, the doors close on her leg and the elevator shoots upward. And she is just kind of yanked up with it. Then, the elevator car becomes pinned between the first and second floor. It seems like her body is what stops the elevator’s movement."
City Room also called Hart's father, who said, weeping, "She was the most marvelous daughter imaginable. No father could have ever been more proud of her."