Bldg. super in 'serious' condition after being crushed by elevator
A super of a Washington Heights apartment building was in serious condition Thursday after being pinned under an elevator.
Armando Bennett, 56, was trying to pluck keys that had dropped underneath the elevator at around 8:30 a.m. when it suddenly lowered, trapping him underneath, witnesses and officials said.
Firefighters helped free Bennett at about 8:45 a.m., according to an FDNY spokesman. Police and Fire officials said he suffered head trauma, and had cuts on his head and hands. He was taken to Columbia Presbyterian hospital, where he was listed in "serious" condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Tony Sclafani, a spokesman for the Department of Buildings, confirmed that there have been at least three complaints filed against the building's owner since June, claiming the elevator was "defective/inoperative," and would not let passengers off on the 6-story building's top floor. One complaint alleged that a pregnant tenant had to walk up the stairs to get to her apartment.
But Sclafani said inspectors believe the elevator's problems did not cause the accident.
"It appears to be worker error as opposed to a mechanical error," he said.
To be safe, the elevator was taken out of service Thursday, Sclafani said.
Ramon Lebron, who lives in the building, said the elevator has been finnicky lately.
"Just recently, it was a little out of hand," Lebron, 21, said. "It wasn't able to hold the weight it was supposed to hold. With more than three people it would just stop -- it wouldn't go up."
Lebron said the injured super was new to the building.
"It did pretty bad damage to him," Lebron said. "One just can't hold an elevator"
A representative for Bronstein Properties, which owns the apartment building, would not discuss the complaints about the elevator and said he was unsure how the accident occurred.
"I know there is an accident and I know my super is in the hospital," he said.
An NYPD spokeswoman said there was no criminality suspected, and that cops were still investigating the accident.