The investigation continues into the death of a 37-year-old man, who was crushed by a malfunctioning elevator in a Williamsburg apartment building. A Daily News source claims the elevator was "overloaded with about 14 people" but a building resident tells us that the elevator behaved in a similar manner—plunging with the doors open and then suddenly going up—when it was "FAR under the elevator's weight limit."
Around 4 a.m. on Friday, Eran Modan and a group of friends were in the elevator of the Espoir, a luxury rental at 156 Hope Street in Brooklyn. From the NY Times:
The door remained open but the elevator plunged to the basement, carrying [Modan] and four friends. They were all afraid, one of the friends said later, but only Mr. Modan decided to try stepping out. The floor of the basement, now almost level with the cab, was in sight.
In an instant the small elevator shot back up toward the lobby, its stainless-steel door still ajar, and Mr. Modan only halfway out. His body was crushed between the elevator and the basement ceiling and elevator shaft, and he was pronounced dead by emergency medical workers.
One of the friends said to the NY Times, "As it went up, he tried to jump out and was caught in between two floor. His body was squashed... This is not a dignified way to die."
Modan, who lived in Queens and was originally from Israel, had been visiting his girlfriend in the building. Another friend, Mona Zarrin Ramshell, told the News that she gave him mouth-to-mouth: "I got up to him and it looked like he was dead.. I felt his pulse stop and he was dead. I was telling him, ‘I love you, baby. You’ll be OK.’ I started singing to him."
Elevator inspector Scott Schindler spoke to the Daily News as well. The paper reports, "The security video makes clear the lift, which has a capacity of 10 people, was carrying far too many people." Schindler said, "I know exactly what it was. They have it on tape. They overloaded the elevator. It was 14 people in the elevator and it’s on tape."
Still, residents agree that the elevators have not worked very well. In an interview with DNAinfo, one said, "It's always made this weird noise, like a rattling. They came to fix it maybe a month ago. They'd come and fix it and it'd break again." And the NY Times adds, "Another tenant, Leo, said the elevator had to be closed down and repaired only two weeks ago, so he had to use the stairs. A man who has lived there for a year and a half said he had gotten stuck 'a few times.' Both declined to give their full names because they did not want to draw attention to themselves."
A resident of the building who has been trapped in the elevator twice, once for 45 minutes, and has experienced the elevator sudden plunge with far fewer passengers, sent us the email the building's management company sent.
Dear Residents, With condolence on the tragedy that occurred to us this past overnight at 156 Hope Street, we are writing to you.
As most have of us have already been informed, the elevator was overloaded this night causing the brake to break down and leading the elevator car to drop to the basement of the building. It is with a sad and shocked heart that we are reaching out to you now. It pains us that a young person should end his life so tragically in our building.
Yet, with assurance, we are sending you this email.
Management is working with the Elevator Company and NYC Department of Buildings to investigate how this happened. The elevator is inspected and maintained monthly and we just recently had the annual test filed satisfactory with the NYC DOB. We are working to restore the elevator and have it up and running safely as soon as the repair is approved by the Elevator Company and NYC Department of Buildings.
We understand that some of our residents may feel tense and uneasy on how such an occurrence happened in a luxury building as The Espoir, however with all inspections and maintenance, Acts of God cannot be foreseen and intervened. The events of last evening are unfortunate and will always be remembered, however, acts that are beyond the control of management and ownership cannot be anticipated.
We welcome our residents to reach out to us to discuss any concerns they still have.
Residents of 140 Hope Street, we will be inspecting the elevator in your building as well to ensure its safety.
Goose Property Management
The building's property manager, Jacob Katz, told the Times, "We’ve never had any problem with the elevator," and said of other complaints, "I wouldn’t consider that anything happened. Maybe someone felt some shaking or heard some noise and they called" the Department of Buildings. Katz also referenced Modan's death being an "Act of God," "t hurts us very badly that this happened, but sometimes things happen that you cannot control. It comes from God. It comes from someplace."
DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler said his team was investigating, "It’s possible that it may have been overloaded, and maybe the car was reacting in a way that’s not predictable."