Manufacturers have refused to take responsibility for the well-known safety hazard
A seven-year-old boy was killed in a home elevator accident just days after federal regulators put pressure on another elevator manufacturer to fix a similar problem.
The boy, from Canton, Ohio, got trapped between the inner and outer doors of the elevator, and was crushed to death as the elevator moved, reports The Washington Post.
He and his family had arrived at a beach rental home in North Carolina’s Outer Banks on vacation earlier that day.
This kind of residential elevator has a small gap between the two doors, just large enough for a young child to fit. According to a 2019 Washington Post investigation, this is a well-known safety hazard, which the industry is aware of. It’s easily rectified with a $100 plastic or foam insert to block the space.
It’s not the first time a child has been hurt by this model of elevator. In 2019, a four-year old 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.
Before that, a string of deaths and injuries, reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, date back to 1981 – eight children were killed and two more seriously injured in similar accidents since then, according to records. Experts say the real number is likely much higher.
But despite numerous petitions 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.
Just last week, the CPSC voted to sue ThyssenKrupp Access, part of a German conglomerate which is one of the world’s largest elevator manufacturers after talks broke down. They had been negotiating over the CPSC’s requirement that they launch a recall effort to inspect and fix all of their residential elevators, which have been tied to two accidents involving children – one of which was fatal, the other a serious brain injury.
The outcome of the lawsuit remains to be seen and does not address the dozen or so other companies continuing to produce potentially dangerous elevators.