A group of eight people were stuck in a sweltering elevator for about eight hours Wednesday, but their clausterphobic plight was minor in comparison to the tragedy that put them in that unenviable position.
It was just before 9am when an Otis elevator employee plunged as far as 10 floors to his death while attempting to make repairs at the TD Bank Tower. He fell to the bottom of the shaft, forcing authorities to cut the power.
The man has since been identified as 43-year-old Andrew Hill, a father of five. He had been working for the company for the past 9 years.
“What we’ve had today is an unfortunate industrial accident. A gentleman repairing the elevator has had a fatal fall,” confirms Lorne Buckingham, Division Commander, Toronto Fire Services.
The incident left eight passengers stuck in one of the cars 44 storeys up. Authorities were able to speak to them to tell them what happened and ask for their patience. They apparently responded that they were fine and awaiting a rescue of their own.
One of the trapped men, a courier, was able to contact his friend from the elevator. “He said he was okay but he’s just really tired because it’s exhausting being around all the tragedy and everyone is really afraid,” the friend relayed.
No one inside the car was hurt and while a cable holding the device was damaged, officials say there was no danger that they’d fall.
They were finally freed around 2pm.
Otis released a statement later in the day saying;
“This is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts and sympathies are with his family. Until the investigation is completed, we cannot speculate as to what caused this accident.”
In the meantime those who work in the Towers were stunned by the tragedy. “I’m very shaken because I’ve probably seen this gentleman walk past me so many times since we worked down here,” laments Chris Pagonis, a daytime assistant manager.
“There’s no words. I mean, I’ll go back to work but I don’t feel well. I’ve never heard of something like that happening before.”
The Ministry of Labour responded to the Bay and Wellington St. site, and investigators are probing the mishap.