Woman freed after spending weekend in Manhattan elevator
  • Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Woman freed after spending weekend in Manhattan elevator

NEW YORK >> The owners of a Manhattan town house arrived home today after a weekend away to discover that a female worker had been stuck in their elevator since Friday evening, officials said.

The woman, who has not yet been publicly identified, was transported to a hospital in good condition, James Long, a Fire Department spokesman, said. There was no information immediately available on whether she was injured.

Firefighters reported to the home at 48 E. 65th St., a five-story building on the Upper East Side just after 5 a.m. Hawaii time this morning, forced open the doors of the elevator and found the woman, Long said.

Hugo Martinez, 50, who works next door, said that when firefighters removed the woman from the building on a stretcher, she appeared conscious and calm.

The elevator had most recently been inspected in July and no violations were filed, according to city records.

The city Department of Buildings said it was investigating the incident, though when an inspector, Devon Simmons, knocked on the front door today, he was not let into the building.

Simmons said he would need to do tests to determine what led to the elevator’s malfunction. Until he was given access to the building, he said, the homeowners would be flagged with a violation. The Department of Buildings issued one later that day, a spokeswoman said.

Simmons did not know whether the elevator had a phone or emergency button in it. According to the Department of Buildings, elevators in buildings that do not have people continuously monitoring them are required to have buttons or phones that can signal a service capable of taking action in an emergency.

Near Madison Avenue and down the block from the fine-dining stalwart Daniel, the home was purchased in 1999 by Warren and Harriet Stephens, according to public records. The couple spent nearly $8 million on the home, the New York Times reported later that year. The elevator was installed before they purchased the house.

Warren Stephens, a billionaire investor originally from Arkansas, is chairman and chief executive of the investment firm Stephens Inc., which is based in Little Rock, Arkansas, but also has an office in New York. In 2018, Forbes, which ranked him 302nd on its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, estimated his net worth at $2.7 billion.

In 1999, The Times described him as “understated,” and said he and his wife “zealously guarded” their family’s privacy.

Stephens could not be immediately reached for comment. A man who answered a phone number associated with the home said Stephens was not available to speak, then hung up.

The incident was not the first time in recent memory that someone in New York City had been trapped in an elevator for an extended period. In 2005, a deliveryman for a Chinese restaurant was stuck in an elevator in the Bronx for roughly 81 hours.

In 1999, a man who was returning to his desk from a cigarette break was stuck in an elevator in a Midtown office building for 40 hours. He was freed after a building employee saw him on a security camera. The New Yorker later published video showing how he spent the time.

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