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57 reports filed in past year of people stuck in elevators



Published: Fri, October 27, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Officials say the elevator that killed a student was about 1,100 pounds over its limit.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- In the past year, service technicians received 22 reports of passengers trapped inside stuck elevators in four Ohio State high-rise dormitories where elevators failed emergency tests after a fatal accident last week.

Seven of those reports came from Stradley Hall, where freshman Andrew Polakowski, 18, of Erie, Pa., suffocated last Friday when he was pinned after trying to leave an elevator stuck between floors, according to the reports released Thursday.

Four of those reports came from the elevator Polakowski was trying to exit. In three of those reports, the problem was attributed to either overcrowding or passengers jumping inside the elevator; the reports don't distinguish between the two activities.

The records show 57 total reports of trapped passengers in six high-rise dorms on the university's south campus that are considered similar. The records show an additional 41 cases of elevators stuck without passengers in the same dorms.

In 29 of all cases, the problem was attributed to overcrowding or jumping.

Fatal accident

Fire officials said the elevator that killed Polakowski exceeded its 2,500-pound weight capacity by as much as 1,100 pounds when 24 people crowded onto it Friday night.

Polakowski was the last person in the 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 was pinned when he tried to escape through a gap between the top of the elevator doors and the third floor. He died because he couldn't breathe, the coroner said.

After the accident, six elevators failed emergency brake tests in four of the high-rise dormitories, including both passenger elevators in Stradley Hall. Those are the only six that failed of the 41 elevators tested in all the university's high-rise dorms since the accident.

The six elevators that didn't pass brake tests had passed full-scale tests required every five years, including an August 2003 test that approved the elevator where the accident happened. That elevator also passed spot safety checks in December, June and July, officials said.

Testing in low-rise dorms

Ohio State has finished brake tests in its high-rise dorms and has begun tests on low-rise dorms.

Of the elevators in seven low-rise dormitories where brake tests were performed Thursday, no deficiencies were found, though some elevators had yet to be tested, the university said in a news release. Officials planned to complete inspections of the low-rise dormitory elevators today.

The reports released Thursday are histories of service requests from October 2005 through September compiled by Otis Elevator Co., which had the university service contract at the time.




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