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Officials examine elevator for flaws



Published: Tue, October 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The elevator was evidently overloaded, a fire official said.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- Twenty-four people had crowded onto a dormitory elevator before it pinned and killed an Ohio State University freshman, exceeding its weight capacity by as much as 1,100 pounds, a fire official said Monday.

The count came from a medic who interviewed survivors in a room immediately after the Friday night accident, said Doug Smith, a battalion chief for the Columbus Division of Fire. He said the elevator had a weight capacity of 2,500 pounds.

"If you take the average freshman college kid, you'd probably average their weight somewhere between 140 and 150 [pounds], so without a doubt, it probably exceeded the weight," Smith said.

Andrew Polakowski, 18, of Erie, Pa., was the last person in a group of students to enter the elevator on Stradley Hall's third floor when it unexpectedly began to descend with the doors open, campus police said.

Polakowski, a pre-business major, was pinned when he tried to escape through a gap between the top of the elevator and the third floor, police said.

Polakowski, who had chest and abdominal injuries, died of mechanical asphyxia, Franklin County Coroner Bradley Lewis said.

Authorities have not concluded that the extra weight caused the elevator to malfunction. The case remains under investigation.

Inspectors from the state Department of Commerce returned to the scene Monday to continue their probe, officials said. It also released documents showing the elevator had passed every safety test conducted by Otis Elevator Co. going back to 2003, including the most recent one on July 24.

What's being checked

Inspectors are looking at the elevator's doors and other mechanical and electrical parts to determine if the elevator met state design, installation and safety standards, said Denise Lee, spokeswoman for the state commerce department.




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