An elevator in a Chicago skyscraper plummeted 84 floors with six terrified passengers inside – and it took another three hours to rescue the victims, who were trapped the entire time with no food or water.
The riders – which included a pregnant woman, Northwestern law students, and tourists from Mexico – hopped in the elevator after dining at the famed Signature Room in the John Hancock Center at 12:30 a.m. on Friday, when hell broke loose.
“At the beginning, I believed we were going to die,” Jamie Montemayor, who was visiting Chicago from Mexico City, told CBS.
“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.”
When dust particles started falling from the elevator ceiling, Montemayor’s wife, Mana Castillo said she feared the worst.
“I knew something wasn’t OK,” Castillo told The Chicago Tribune.
One of the elevator’s hoist cables snapped, causing the elevator to fall. Luckily, the other cables didn’t fail, which kept the elevator from crashing down to the floor.
No one was seriously injured during the elevator malfunction, but one passenger, who was not identified, was treated for anxiety after the harrowing ordeal.
“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.
“We don’t like to have to go through walls unless it’s absolutely necessary,” he said. “The only other way to get to the elevator would have been ropes from the 97th floor, and that would not be safe. We don’t come down like Batman so we must go through the wall,” Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told The Chicago Tribune.
The elevator, which became wedged between the 11th and 12th floor, was in a “blind shaft” meaning there were no doors through which firefighters could enter to rescue people.
The firefighters drilled a 5-by-5-foot hole through a wall in the building’s parking garage. The trapped passengers could hear the rescue team drilling, and one of the law students filmed the moment the firefighters pried open the elevator doors – just after 3 A.M.
“When they opened the door the feeling was, ‘Thanks, bud!’” Montemayor told the Chicago Tribune.
Firefighters helped the passengers to safety with a small ladder they lowered into the elevator.
The elevator and the two adjacent next to it will be closed until maintenance makes the appropriate repairs. The elevator was last inspected for safety in July.
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