A little boy was killed in a home elevator accident while having a vacation with his family at their rental home.
The family from Canton, Ohio, had arrived at the beach rental house in North Carolina’s Outer Banks for their vacation earlier that day.
Emergency personnel responded to a call around 7 PM on Saturday about a boy from Canton, Ohio who got stuck in an elevator at a vacation house in Corolla, the Wavy reported.
The house is on Franklyn Street in the Corolla Light neighborhood, just south of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge toward the northern tip of the Outer Banks.
It was the first day of the family’s vacation at the luxury North Carolina home in Outer Banks, which rents for about $14,000 per week.
The 7-year-old boy appears to be stuck between the moving elevator’s inner accordion door and an outer door and crushed his head and neck.
Upon arrival, EMS found a boy trapped between an elevator car and an elevator shaft in the villa. According to Wavy, first responders tried to revive the boy, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rich Shortway, Corolla Fire Chief told The Washington Post that the boy had been “trapped between the bottom of the elevator car and the home’s upper door frame.”
“It’s just such a terrible tragedy,” Shortway said.
Ralph Melton, Currituck County Fire-EMS Chief said to The Coastland Times that they are uncertain how the accident happened.
“We are not sure exactly how it happened,” Melton said. “The child was entrapped in the doors.”
“We were able to free him, but his head and neck were crushed by the elevator,” Melton continued. “He died of traumatic injuries sustained in the elevator mishap Sunday night.”
He also revealed that there have been other “close calls” of the children being harmed by home elevators, but this is the first death that has occurred in the Outer Banks town.
The Currituck County Sheriff’s Office has conducted an investigation into the incident and concluded that it was an accident, The Outer Banks Voice reported.
The Associated Press has contacted the North Carolina Department of Labor. But while the organization is responsible for inspecting elevators in public and commercial buildings, they do not have the authority to inspect those located in private homes.
“If an accident happened in or around a private residence elevator, there is no requirement to report that accident to us,” Jennifer Haigwood, a department spokeswoman told the news outlet.
According to the Washington Post, the elevator industry has been aware of the child safety hazard for decades. A $100 foam or plastic insert could fill in the gap.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued warnings about the “deadly gap between doors of home elevators” and suggested using a space guard or electronic monitoring device to prevent children from getting trapped.
But even with numerous appeals from the victim’s families, the CPSC did not order a safety recall or a fix from manufacturers. Industry groups have not taken responsibility for the danger, arguing that the problem is complicated.
In 2019, the Consumer Product Safety Commission decided not to require elevator companies to fix the issue or carry out recalls. Instead, the commission published a safety alert on its website and sent notices to governors.
“CPSC is aware of several tragic incidents in which children became entrapped between the doors leading to death, serious fractures, traumatic asphyxia, and lifelong injuries,” the agency said in the statement.
In the same year, a 4-year-old boy got pinned under the elevator in his grandfather’s home outside Salt Lake City and was only just rescued in time by his frantic father and brother.
According to the Washington Post, at least eight children have died and two have been fatally wounded in elevator accidents between 1981 and 2019. Although, experts estimate the number is significantly higher.
Just last week, the CPSC voted to sue ThyssenKrupp Access, part of a German corporation that is one of the world’s largest elevator manufacturers after talks broke down.
They had been discussing the CPSC’s requirement that they initiate a recall effort to examine and repair all of their residential elevators, which have been tied to two accidents involving children.
The monitoring agency is championing for the elevator company to notify customers about the danger and offer free inspections and repairs.
“CPSC knows that for years ThyssenKrupp Access Corp has worked to help homeowners address improper third-party installations of home elevators that were delivered to dealers by the company before it exited the residential elevator business in 2012,” the company said in a statement.
“Elevators installed with an excessive gap space between hoistway and elevator doors create a potential child entrapment hazard, which could cause serious injuries or even death.”
“For years, ThyssenKrupp Access Corp. has urged, and still today urges, owners of homes where any ThyssenKrupp Access Corp elevator was installed to take immediate action to prevent children from using or accessing the elevator until the home has been checked to see if there are an excessive gap space and space guards installed to reduce that gap space.”
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