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Elevator Malfunction Terrifies Passengers at Chicago High-Rise


By Greg Zimmerman Material Handling
john hancock building

Malfunctioning or out-of-service elevators consistently rank as one of the most-cited reasons for occupant dissatisfaction in a building. Occupants demand 100 percent reliability. While being trapped in an elevator is one of the more common nightmares for the average person, elevator malfunctions are high on the list of issues that keep facility managers up at night.

Six people, including a pregnant woman, recently plunged nearly 80 floors and then were trapped in an elevator for several hours at the former John Hancock building in Chicago, which is now called 875 North Michigan Avenue. Two elevator cables had snapped, and the elevator became stuck between floors. Because the elevator was an express and had very few openings, rescuers had to break through a wall from the 11th floor of the adjacent parking garage to extract the rattled but uninjured passengers.

Fire crews first checked the building management system to identify the elevator’s approximate location, according to the Chicago Tribune. Then they drilled a hole in the concrete wall and used a gooseneck wire to insert a camera to pinpoint the passengers’ exact location. Finally, they determined which walls to break through to rescue the passengers. Crews were in contact with the terrified passengers via the elevator’s communication system during the ordeal.

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.

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