The Wall Street Journal - July 18, 2012by TANIA KARAS
A worker had been moving a customer's vehicle into an elevator on the fifth floor around 10 a.m. when the vehicle dropped into the shaft, fire officials said. As the SUV fell, it flipped and became stuck at a steep angle atop the elevator, which was on the first floor of the garage at 355 East 76th St.
Firefighters freed the trapped worker using Jaws of Life to remove the vehicle's door, said FDNY Chief Stephen Geraghty, head of rescue operations. The man was brought down from the elevator roof by fire rescuers.
The worker, who looked to be in his early 20s, was carried out on a stretcher around 10:25 a.m. with blood running down his face and bandages on his arms and legs. Officials said his injuries aren't life-threatening.
The second injured employee was inside the elevator at the time of the crash. He was able to walk out on his own once the elevator doors opened, said FDNY spokesman Jim Long.
The garage and surrounding block were closed for most of the morning as firefighters attached chains to the vehicle to yank it free. It took nearly two hours for emergency personnel to remove the black Lexus RX 350 from the shaft.
"This building is going to give birth to a car," Mr. Long said of the unwieldy process, which ended with an overturned vehicle sitting on the street.
Officials said a mechanical error allowed the elevator doors to open as the worker was moving the SUV, and an investigation will determine how the malfunction occurred. There is evidence the employee drove through the doors before they opened completely, Mr. Long said.
"It's scary to think an engineering problem could cause a car to drive into an open elevator shaft like that," said Gahmk Markarian, a local resident who was at the New York Sports Clubs gym next-door. He and others inside the gym rushed out when they heard sirens and watched as emergency personnel struggled with the vehicle.
Mr. Geraghty said mechanical failures aren't uncommon at elevator garages. "It does happen from time to time," he said.
The six-floor garage contains two businesses: a Hertz Global Holdings Inc. location on the lower levels and a parking garage operated by Garage Management Co. on the upper floors. The injured attendants worked for the public garage, which declined to comment.
The workers were listed in stable condition at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.