Elevator Plummets 84 Floors After Cable Breaks in Chicago Skyscraper

By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter

November 20, 2018

Six people found themselves stranded inside an elevator in one of Chicago's tallest skyscrapers for more than three hours last Friday (Nov. 16) after a hoist rope holding the express elevator broke, causing it to malfunction. 

The building, formerly called the John Hancock Center, is Chicago's fourth-tallest skyscraper. 

One man who was visiting from Mexico, told CBS Chicago he didn't expect his trip would include a three-hour tour of an elevator. 

"At the beginning I believed we were going to die," Jaime Montemayor said. "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."

According to Montemayor's wife, Mana, the elevator was moving fast when a dust-like material began filtering into the car. It wasn't until later that they learned their ride had fallen from the 95th to the 11th floor. 

In order to get everyone out, rescue crews had to get creative. There were no openings between floors thanks to the building's blind-shaft style layout. 

The people trapped inside the elevator had to wait for hours while rescue crews hammered an escape hatch for them out of a concrete wall in the garage area of the 11th floor. 

Cables could be seen dangling next to the cracked door where people were pulled to safety, according to reports. 

"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," said Chicago Battalion Fire Chief Patrick Maloney.

The elevator, along with two others in the building, have been closed to the public while the units undergo repairs and investigators try and figure out how the incident happened. No one trapped in the elevator was hurt, or needed to be hospitalized, authorities said. 

Chicago requires that any elevators inside city limits must pass an annual inspection. The last time the elevator that failed was checked was in July of 2018. 

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