An elevator inside one of Chicago’s tallest buildings careened down 84 stories after one of its hoist ropes broke, leaving six people rattled but uninjured.
The elevator malfunction occurred Fri., Nov. 16, at the 875 Michigan Avenue building – the fourth tallest skyscraper in the city, formerly called the Hancock Center – when guests leaving the Signature Room on the 95th floor hit the button to go down to the lobby.
“At the beginning I believed we were going to die,” Jaime Montemayor, who was visiting from Mexico, told CBS Chicago. “We were going down and then I felt that we were falling down and then I heard a noise – clack clack clack clack clack clack.”
The elevator plunged to the 11th floor of the building. Mr. Montemayor’s wife told CBS Chicago that as the elevator fell, dust started to fill the elevator compartment. The six occupants learned later that they had plunged to the 11th floor.
The six elevator occupants were stuck inside the lift for three hours. Some of them said that security officers in the building did not immediately call firefighters. When rescuers did arrive, they found that there were no openings between floors where the trapped people could be pulled through.
According to CBS Chicago, the rescue crew had to hammer out a concrete wall in the garage area of the 11th floor to access the elevator car and let the people out.
“It was a precarious situation where we had the cable break on top of the elevator (and) we couldn’t do an elevator-to-elevator rescue, we had to breach a wall,” Chicago Battalion Fire Chief Patrick Maloney told CBS.
CBS notes that city inspectors visited the Hancock Building in 2014 and 2017 in response to elevator complaints, which resulted in a citation for failure to maintain electric elevator equipment. Records show those problems were resolved.
City records indicate the elevator that broke in this instance passed a routine inspection in July of this year, according to CBS.