Buildings Dept.: Freight Elevator Not Designed For PassengersBy Kathryn Brown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly two dozen men were injured in an elevator accident Wednesday morning in Chelsea.

It happened around 7 a.m. at the Bed, Bath and Beyond on 6th Avenue near 18th Street.

Authorities said a freight elevator dropped three floors to the ground when cables supporting the elevator snapped.

“It was, you know, a free-fall from Great Adventure to be honest. If you ever go on that ride that’s what it was. We didn’t know when it was gonna stop,” said “Paul,” who was in the elevator but didn’t want to give his full name. “People got hurt. It was a hard landing.”

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports: Close Call In Chelsea

According to several reports, the Buildings Department found that the freight elevator was being used as a passenger elevator and its brake was defective, causing it to malfunction.

“I braced on anything I could find, a wall or something because I knew we were gonna hit sooner or later,” Paul said.

“I held on. I had somebody holding onto me, grabbing on for his life, bringing me down with him so when you hit the bottom you jumped up a little bit, took a look around to see what’s happening,” another victim said.

“The brake was sort of holding a little. If that brake wasn’t on it would’ve been a much worse situation.”

City officials ordered the elevator immediately out of service.

Twenty-two of the workers were taken to Bellevue and Beth Israel Hospitals. Nine men complained of neck and back pain. One person was not hospitalized.

“Those are the most serious injuries — the neck and back pains. The rest are people complaining of knee pain, arm pain and other minor injuries, nothing serious,” FDNY Deputy Chief Jackie Sullivan told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.

“It felt like we were jumping,” a victim said.

The Buildings Department will inspect the elevator and try to figure out what caused it to fall.

Back in April, 28 passengers in an elevator had the opposite problem as it got stuck and firefighters had to come to their rescue. The whole incident was caught on tape.

Comments (136)
  1. UB says:

    Its the company that holds the maintenance contracts fault. If they were keeping up with the maintenance, that would never have happened.

    1. Tom Hodgson says:

      this is very true…. all passengers on this elevator ,do not sign a release to an insurance company……… you need to contact a law firm with experience in elevator accidents ,as well as an expert witness . I have 40+ years in the elevator industry, in all phases of the industry….. maintenance companies are not doing maintenance required by law on elevators and escalators they service. They are only interested in the bottom line dollar…greed… They are not being challenged by persons involved in an elevator accident. The companies offer the individuals a settlement out of court. As long as this continues they will get away with not preforming a service protecting the public and getting away with it. The laws are not being in forced by the State.

      1. jmf_stl says:

        I hope you have greater knowledge of the elevator industry than you do of the english language. But I seriously doubt it.

  2. pasportee says:

    If they were bankers and traders scotch breath and methane emanating from their pores probably caused regulator failure,. and should be investigated. by who?sec,and child welfare agencies..any failure to do so Belgium detectives should be notified. have a nice day:)

  3. johnson says:

    weight in elevator > weight rating + 25% = broken ropes

    1. Sara says:

      A Freight elevator is meant to hold a good deal of weight, on a regular construction site, using similar you will easily get 30-40men in, in 1 go, so 22 does not sound excessive at all.

  4. logical reasons says:

    the real question is why there were 21 people in 1 elevator.if all of the guys were around 225 lbs as someone above hypothesized,then that’s about 4,725 pounds total in one wonder the cable broke.they would have no case due to their own negligence if that is what the cause is found to be.

    1. spencer says:

      Thank you! That is exactly the reason I read this article, because I was going to originally pass over this headline but stopped to wonder why the hell there were 22 people in one elevator.

    2. JOE says:

      those elevators are rated for up to 30 people. How do you fit 30 people in there you asked? NUTS TO BUTTS PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

    3. more logical says:

      You don’t know the size and capacity of the elevator in question. As someone who has been required to take freight elevators all over NYC, I’m going to assume that you do not work in a trade that requires you to do so. There are freight elevators in this city that are large enough to drive a full size van or even a truck into, particularly in chelsea. In addition, many buildings have restrictions on who can ride in passenger elevators and who is allowed to operate freight elevators. None of these details are in the article. Nowhere in the article does it say that they were over capacity although it is entirely possible. Either way, a brake should have stopped the free fall.

  5. construction worker says:

    Construction workers are treated like dogs. we are only allowed in the frieght elevators. if u use the regular passenger elevators u will be removed from the job or lose ur job. these poor guys were packing in the elevator to get to work which im sure at that time the regular white collar elevators were empty. by law the elevator is not to be used for passengers thus the name frieght elevator. material handlers and material are supposed to be in there . the elevator was having problems before this and wasent fixed as a guy told me that was there yesterday. if the white collar elevator was slightly out of whack it would be fixxed immediatly. we are treated like homless people in most buildings.

    1. ep tor says:

      Would you like to change into your regular clean street clothes every time you went up or down?

      1. construction worker says:

        read the article . its illegal but convenient for the building to not have to clean up . if ur asking me if id rather change my clothes or fall into a basment ….hmm let me think about that and get back to u. wait ill just go with fall in the basment so nobody has to clean up i hate inconvieniencing people.

    2. DA says:

      Wrong. Construction workers are equipped with tools and wear wook boots and are provided for by the Code. Read the DOB code as it pertains to usage for devices before you open your mouth. No wonder you work in the trade you do.

      1. Paula MacDonald Ferguson says:

        My husband is an Electrician and does not, in a way shape or form, carry his tools everytime he goes up or down on the elevator. They stay on the floor until the job is done – which can be months. When he heads in or our for the day, or for lunch, or breaks, it is just him and the (clean) clothes on his back. The ignorance of your last line tells me that you are the type of jerk who would be offended by having to share an elevator with, god forbid, a construction worker!!!

  6. Will Davis says:

    “City officials ordered the elevator immediately out of service ”

    Ya’ think?

    1. Brucie says:

      With broken cables, I don’t believe it would work well anyway, lol.

  7. That Guy says:

    Americans are just overweight!

    1. Fanny Forbes Franklen says:

      This is just more evidence of what happens when you give bankers trillions of dollars and do not spend a dime on the infrastructure of a country.

      Decay, degeneration and decrepitude is the future unless the criminals bankers are arrested and the treason started.

      1. Jefoid says:

        An elevator in a private building is not infrastructure. Do you really think your tax dollars should be spent to fix a Bed Bath & Beyond?

  8. BATMANNN says:


  9. JR869 says:

    Ground floor does NOT equate to basement, and

    4th floor +basement = FIVE floors


    1. reallly says:

      Actually that is only 4 floor becuase if you fell from the 4th floor to the 4th floor you would have fallen 0 floors, if you fall from the 4th floor to the 3rd floor you fell 1 floor, if you fall from the 4th floor to the 2nd floor you have fallen 2 floor, if you fall from the 4th floor to the first floor you have fallen 3 floors, if you fall from the 4th floor to the basement you have fallen 4 floors. Tah dah…

      1. Ace says:


    2. Lisa says:

      Not to quibble … if it stopped at the fourth floor, there were three floors to the ground. I give you the basement is not the ground … three plus one equals FOUR

  10. video cheif says:

    21 hogs riding at about 225 lbs each ,too much weight ,
    Sorry guys and gals, no big payout for you,time future for
    your suffering ,read the sign that tells yo safely how many
    persons can ride at one time.
    I think some of you all jumped in the shaft… for dah

  11. JEFF GORDON says:

    With so may people on the elevator it’s no wonder the cable snapped.

  12. YouAreAllTrolls says:

    Very observant of you…however completely irrelevant and having absolutely nothing to do with this news story at all. These were American union construction workers…wonderful display of ignorance though Mr. Coleman!

  13. CPSWIRE says:

    Follow this and other top breaking news feeds on

  14. nyc says:

    what about the emergency break? it fail too?

    1. Steve M says:

      It held, but only partly. I use freight elevators every day, once in a while I do think: what if it just fell right now…

      1. MEMEMEME says:

        Cheerful kinda person arent’ ya darlin? ; )

    2. uncle hussan says:

      its brake not break

      1. mtwain says:

        to brake and not to break, that is the question.

    3. Fred says:

      One would hope there will be a serious investigation of the building inspector who approved this lift. The braking mechanism should have stopped it cold, and how on earth were the cables allowed to wear to the point of breakage?

      1. UB says:

        My point exactly. If there was proper maintenance on the elevator, the cables would have been good.

  15. Eric Hultman says:

    Why were passengers in a ‘Freight Elevator’?
    Doesn’t the placard indicate ‘not for passenger use’.

    1. ecurbyy says:

      Hey. That was my first thought also. I designed passenger elevators for Dover Corp. Actually, the elevator is the safest form of transportation. I’m not sure about freight elevators though.

      1. Alleycat says:

        A freight elevator requires an operator or a passenger, so a freight elevator without an operator is like teats on a bull. Why would one prohibit passengers?

  16. mad dog mulligan says:

    ouch, thats gonna leave a mark fo sho

  17. TheElevatorMan says:

    no, racist, they were on their way upstairs to start working like productive citizens. what were you contributing to society at 7am this morning?

    1. harv says:

      you have a point. i was still in bed not making headlines or being negligent. i suppose i’m not worthy. still, 22 people on an elevator (that isn’t a massive grain elevator) is a little ridiculous, even to the untrained eye — whether you’re in a hurry to punch in and earn a living and save mankind or not.

    2. Dave says:

      When did Mexico become a race?

  18. Andy VanMiddlesworth says:

    Great old building ,I always took the stairs.

    1. NYC says:

      Yes, that’s only 3 floors walk up don’t be lazy ^_^

  19. Mary Urech Stallings says:

    Bed, Bath and Deep Pockets.

    1. AJLind says:


    2. T says:

      Bed, Bath, and Beyond the Gates of Hell.

      1. Tee-Hee! says:

        Bed, Bath, and…


      2. BATMANNN says:





  20. John Doe says:

    wait wait wait…. lets blame Al-Qaida for this …

    1. DanaDee says:

      No, let’s blame Bush! Everything is his fault!!

    2. Not to worry John, DHS was there just after this picture was shot with backskatter machines and TSA agents. Janet Napeltano was scheduled for an 11:30 EST news conference explaining why everyone getting onto elevators now needed to go through thorough screening to insure this never happens again! Don’t worry – the Department of Homeland Security is on it!

  21. k says:

    Having spent much time at this location over a 15 yr span and riding this elevator, it is difficult for me to imagine more than 8 people (not to mention strollers, packages, bags, weight issues, etc.) at a time. How could there be 22 people in this elevator? No wonder it malfunctioned.

    1. lb says:

      Because it was the freight, not the passenger elevator.

    2. UB says:

      I don’t care how many people were on it, if it was properly maintained, the cable would not have snapped and the braking system would have stopped it.

  22. sailordude says:

    20 plus people hurt? They will call the lawyers and the lawyers will settle for peanuts.

  23. manny says:

    Guess they fell into the “beyond” department…………………………

    1. arnie says:

      now that is funny!!

    2. Opticaltee says:

      That is totally funny!!

  24. Nena says:

    Freight elevators are for freight not passengers. It is illegal here in Ca. to transport people on a freight elevator…..stupidity.

    1. FreeThinker says:

      Yeah, keep relying on the government and laws to keep you safe. Socialist Republic of California, you are no poster child for anything except what is wrong in America now. NYC is almost as bad with its nanny state and the elevator still fell.

    2. Ornlly Gumfudgen says:

      Not only that but I can name several places in California where freight elevator are frequently used ta LEGALLY transport passengers. In fact one is in my building an th permit on it specifically says that passengers can be hauled.

      If anything, a freight elevator, specifically designed ta move freight, can transport more weight than a passenger only elevator would be expected ta because normally, freight is more dense than human beings, weighs more an thus can have more on a freight elevator weight wise, than if it were filled with passengers.

    3. Mark Matis says:

      That’s probably what she means…

    4. Malik Shlamaza says:

      Who cares WHERE it happened? They were on a FREIGHT elevator. Did it ever occur to people like you that elevators carrying boxes and trash don’t have the safety mechanisms and mandatory inspections elevators carrying people do?
      If pax elevators were unavailable, then they should have used the steps. God forbid people walk DOWN steps for 3 floors. Add lazy to stupid.

    5. TomS says:

      Malik Shlamaza: How do you know that freight elevators don’t have safety equipment?

  25. Jake says:

    Because they aren’t just going to sue for medical expenses. They will sue for any and everything they can get. Just like that jerk Brooklyn4life. Lottery or Law suit. Everyone wants a hand-out. Insurance wouldn’t be so expensive if they were paying legit medical claims. That’s why!!

  26. WB says:

    To those who always quote God. Waht has God to do with an accident. Hypothetical: If a bus goes over the edge and half of the passengers are dead. Is it Gods will that half of them are alive, or is it Gods will that half of them are dead.

    1. Barney May says:


    2. David B Hart says:

      People often want to affirm God’s benevolence, to see meaning in the seemingly monstrous randomness of nature’s violence, and to find solace in God’s guiding hand. To some this may seem to be a fine case for a rejection of God, or of faith in divine goodness. Simply said, there is no more liberating knowledge given us by the gospel—and none in which we should find more comfort—than the knowledge that suffering and death, considered in themselves, have no ultimate meaning at all.

      I do not believe we Christians are obliged—or even allowed—to look upon human tragedies such as this and to console ourselves with vacuous cant about the mysterious course taken by God’s goodness in this world, or to assure others that some ultimate meaning or purpose resides in such misery. Ours is, after all, a religion of salvation; our faith is in a God who has come to rescue His creation from the absurdity of sin and the emptiness of death, and so we are permitted to hate these things with a perfect hatred. For while Christ takes the suffering of his creatures up into his own, it is not because he or they had need of suffering, but because he would not abandon his creatures to the grave. And while we know that the victory over evil and death has been won, we know also that it is a victory yet to come, and that creation therefore, as Paul says, groans in expectation of the glory that will one day be revealed. Until then, the world remains a place of struggle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, life and death; and, in such a world, our portion is charity. David Bentley Hart

      1. John Robin says:

        David, those are some good thoughts. However, the message of Christ does shed a lot of light on the significance of suffering, especially suffering that, while not sought after, is accepted and united with that of Christ. Since Christ’s suffering was voluntary and endured with joy because of Christ’s love for us and His desire for our salvation, the suffering we endure, if united with His, further unites us with the love of God and the will of God. Therefore our attitude toward pain and tragedy in this life need not be pure hatred or aversion, but filial trust that in every situation God can bless us and bring us into closer union with him.

    3. P says:

      You are right on both counts.
      Paul Johnson
      Milton, Fl

    4. bob says:

      If you believe in nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

    5. Mary Urech Stallings says:

      I think that is called half a miracle. You decide which half.

    6. DCrimmins says:

      Duh, determinism

    7. DCrimmins says:

      and gravity

    8. Killerman says:


    9. P. Hertz says:

      God is dead. DIdn’t you get the memo?

    10. JM in San Diego CA says:

      Enough, already, attributing any of this to God. God didn’t create Man. Man created God. (Put God in the group with Santa Claus, Mother Nature, Mister Sandman, The Tooth Fairy, Paul Bunyan, The Bogie Man, Old Man Winter and Alfred E. Newman.)

  27. Bob White says:

    For Edgar Cayce followers:
    Cayce was waiting in a group to take an elevator down several floors. As otheres got into the elevator, he saw their auras disappear. He decided to wait for the next car. The elevator crashed and killed everyone. Don’t you wish we could all see auras?

    1. CayceNot says:

      That’s just mean! He didn’t warn anybody? Just saved his own life? Selfish!
      Actually, James Randi definitively debunked the whole aura thing. He simply asks anyone who claims to see auras, just exactly how far it extends around the body. If they say 1 inch, he stands behind a wall exactly 1/2 inch taller than him, and asks the aura-seer to tell where he is standing behind the wall, since his aura is sticking up 1/2 inch above the wall. 1 million dollar prize for anyone who can do it. No winners, of course.

      1. P. Hertz says:

        Randi never debunked Cayce.

    2. DCrimmins says:

      What a coward

  28. Steve says:

    Just curious…does it work if you jump just before you hit?

    1. Geo says:

      Only if you are Wile E. Coyote!

    2. Jared says:

      Nope. Mythbusters actually did a show on this on the Discovery channel. It doesn’t matter if you jump because you are still traveling so fast inside the elevator that the impact will injure you. They said the safest thing to do is to lay flat on the floor so your whole body absorbs the impact!

    3. stloocardsfan says:

      Nope…saw it on Mythbusters, so it must be true.

  29. RichieRich says:

    They thought it was a Freight Elevator…it’s actually a new amusement park ride called, The Obama Economy”.

    1. Ginger says:

      Hate to tell you Richie, but the Dems and Repubs are both responsible for this country’s demise. They are the party of one…

      1. TimmieTim says:

        Hate to tell you Ginger, but Richie didn’t say anything about “Dems or Repubs.” He simply mentioned the president.

      2. Jackie Jokers says:

        Hate to tell you all, but, I just cheesed.

  30. Fred says:

    What were 21 people doing in a freight elevator?

    1. Dave says:

      What were 21 people doing in a freight elevator in a department store at 7am on a weekday?

      1. lb says:

        Construction workers on their way into work for a 7am start

  31. Jo says:

    WOW! What ever happened to compassion folks??? People were hurt and most of you are leaving cruel comments. I hope it doesn’t happen to any of you!

  32. brooklyn4ever says:

    Why am I never the right place at the right time? Heck, I wnt a cut of the lawsuit to follow.

  33. warmblood says:

    My husband is an expert in elevator controls and says you are right on the money, Art.

  34. Jesus Clemente says:

    John Edwards said “Elevators have infallible emergency brakes”

    That’s ludicrous. Nothing is infallible apart from God.

    1. Warmblood says:

      Nothing is infallible, apart from God, but elevators have two backup systems for stopping in addition to the brakes. Elevators are the safest form of transportation in the world, based on milage.

      1. MergerBoy says:

        Safer than escalators which, if they break, just become stairs?

      2. Warmblood says:

        Safer than escalators where people get their clothes caught (don’t ask me how) in between the stair treads. People also fall down escalators.

  35. Steven says:

    Shame when people’s fat, lazy a$$es can’t walk up (or especially down, they were going down!) three flights….I always take the stairs unless it’s a real journey…just another reason why I am in fantastic shape, and their fat lazy butts are not.

    1. jes says:

      Why are you on this computer? You better not be sitting at a chair when you could be standing. You better not be standing when you could be walking. You better not be walking when you could be running….

      1. bodidit says:

        jes, I can see right now that you are a thinking man! 🙂

    2. John Sheridan says:

      Great, you’ll get a perfect autopsy report.

    3. Notyourfriend says:

      How do you explain your being boring and stupid?

    4. Ken says:

      Yes, Steven. But you don’t sound bright. Some peoples bodies are in fantastic shape, others minds are. Working at McDonalds demands you stay in fantastic shape, so keep taking the stairs and stay employed.

    5. U3 says:

      Your body may be in good shape but your brain and heart are not in place!

    6. Baywatch says:

      So you lug two strollers , 3 kids and a diaper bag up and down 3 flights of stairs all day in place of the eleveator?
      And riding th elevator iplace of the stairs has NOTHING to do with physical fitness. I am in great shape, mentally, physicallly and financially.


    7. New Yorker says:

      There’s no stairs in that store. I’ve shopped there before. That’s the case in most department stores in Manhattan. Stairs take a lot of space that doesn’t exist here, and are more of a legal liability (typically). So there’s elevators. I’m 5’11” and weigh 155 and in great shape, by the way. But, thanks for spouting off like an idiot.

      1. CommonaSense says:

        UH,,,There HAVE to be stairs in the building. Code demands this should there be an emergency or electrical failure…duh!

      2. New Yorker says:

        @ CommonaSense. Not really. Stairs are located as part of the emergency exits that are also wired to alarms- not something that’s normally in use or accessible to customers. I’m from here and shop at that store, you dope. Duh! A little more brain use, and a little less attitude.

    8. Midnight Cake says:

      Steven..Nobody likes a narcissist. Do you stand in front of the mirror and preen all day? I bet people go the other way when they see you coming in their direction.

    9. a says:

      I want to see what your insides look like

    10. Ornlly Gumfudgen says:

      I wanted ta add my own comment but I can see that others have commented much better than I could ever have. Did you learn anything from your stupid remark Steven? Some how or other I really doubt you did but I do have my hopes.

  36. JB says:

    A funny response, but this is downtown Manhattan, not MIssissippi. 21 300 pounders would be VERY hard to come by here- especially in that neighborhood.

    1. Chubsy-Ubsy says:


      Not necessarily, Manhattan has tons (heh) of chunk-styled inhabitants. How soon for our first Waffle-House?

      1. JB says:

        Yeah, there’s some chunksters in Manhattan, no doubt. But in poor neighborhoods waaaay uptown or downtown and far east, not in a well-to-do Chelsea. At 7am, these were likely neighborhood folk. I don’t think a bunch of fatties from miles away somehow all woke up at 6am, and then traveled miles across town town to pay more for bedsheets and bath towels than they would in their own neighborhoods. Mmmmm, although your post makes me want waffles now!

  37. Pat says:

    Your mostly correct. Just think how much $$$ they will get. They will dine out every night at the expense of the insurance company & die from there over wieghtness in a few years.

    1. jess says:

      Why is everyone so offended that the insurance company will have to pay their medical bills??????? That is the ONLY reason they are in business. Just in case something like this happens. I don’t understand this current trend where people would rather the multibillion dollar insurance companies keep every single penny and the 80 year old grandma with injuries has to pay her own medical bills. Where is the reasoning here? Why have insurance if they don’t have to pay for anything?

      1. U3 says:

        Maybe they’re so jealous they wont have a cut of the money. Lol

  38. Annie Fields says:

    I coulda gone my whole life not knowing this kind of thing ACTUALLY happens. Cr*p.

  39. lisa taylor says:

    most likely!

  40. P. Hertz says:

    21 people in a freight elevator?

  41. Jim Hampton says:

    Love in an elevator
    Livin’ it up when I’m goin’ down
    Love in an elevator
    Lovin’ it up ’til I hit the ground

  42. fred paul says:

    not true, the only elevator everto fall in the usa was in the empire state bld and that happen only after an airplane had hit the bld, no was hurt.

  43. TJO says:

    Sue the elevator inspectors!

  44. Joe Blow says:

    Duh, falling

  45. Htos1 says:

    How ’bout spending money on stupid things like,oh,i don’t know,MAINTENANCE,PARTS,ENGINEERING.Instead of stupid dimocrat unions and 300lb’er dmv types.WORD!

  46. THEGEMINI says:

    Note to CBS Headline Writer:

    21 ISN’T ‘SEVERAL”

    1. KPMc says:

      It’s certainly not few. What is your definition of several?

  47. IBEW says:

    It wasn’t Bed Bath and Beyond. Was a construction site.

  48. Local3 says:

    Been complaining about the elevators for over 2 months, not the first time its dropped. Only the first time it was 4 floors with multiple injuries.

  49. rose says:

    maybe people should walk down stairs or use escalator or avoid freight elevators. Many options

    1. 1 Lucky Texan says:

      Stairs kill and injure a LOT more people than elevators. But usually only one person at a time so – it isn’t ‘newsworthy’.

  50. Bell Toller says:

    Maybe there was too much weight in the car

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