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November 19, 2018

Inside the Chicago skyscraper elevator that fell 84 floors

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“Clack clack clack clack” was how they described the sound of your worst nightmare.

Just after midnight Friday, a group of six people was descending from the 95th floor of Chicago’s 875 N. Michigan Avenue building, the famous, 100-story skyscraper formerly known as the John Hancock Center, when they heard it, as 50-year-old tourist Jaime Montemayor told CBS Chicago.

The group in the elevator had gone up to the 95th floor to visit a swanky restaurant overlooking the skyline, and they had chosen the express elevator on their way down. But suddenly, it started moving a little too fast for comfort.

It started to get “bumpy,” like an incoming flight to Chicago, a Northwestern law student who was in the elevator told the Chicago Tribune. It whizzed past all the usual stops, falling and falling and falling 84 floors before coming to an abrupt stop somewhere between the 11th and the 12th.

Then came the noise: “Clack clack clack clack.”

Then came the dust and dirt, floating into the elevator from the ceiling.

And then came the panic.

The strangers started “freaking out,” the law student, who declined to be identified, told the Tribune. Some were screaming, others crying. Montemayor, who was visiting with his wife from Mexico City, said he and his wife held each other tightly and began to pray.

“I believed we were going to die,” Montemayor 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” – the sound of getting trapped in an elevator.

They pressed the emergency button. The six strangers – including Montemayor and his wife, two law students from Northwestern University and two others, including a pregnant woman – were stuck in the elevator for roughly two and a half hours as firefighters tried to figure out a way to reach them.

The problem? They were trapped in a “blind shaft,” meaning there were no doors through which firefighters could enter the shaft and get to them, Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief Patrick Maloney told reporters at the scene, according to ABC 7 Chicago. The malfunction had been caused by a snapped “hoist rope,” or elevator cable, Maloney said. Other cables were still attached, keeping the elevator from plummeting to the floor.

Keep reading in the National Post


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