Elevator death puts focus on safety legislation

The Fire Department at the scene of the elevator incident. (Courtesy F.D.N.Y./Twitter)

BY GABE HERMAN | After a Kips Bay man was killed in an elevator accident last Thursday, attention has turned to state legislation that its supporters say would increase elevator safety.

The tragic incident happened in the Manhattan Promenade apartment building, at 344 Third Ave., at E. 25th St. On the morning of Aug. 22, six people were in the elevator as it reached the lobby. Two people got off safely, and when a man started to exit, the elevator suddenly dropped. The man was caught in between and crushed.

Officials responded around 8:30 a.m. to a 911 call. E.M.S. workers pronounced the man dead at the scene. He was identified as Sam Waisbren, 30, a Wisconsin native who lived in the building.

The victim, Sam Waisbren, in a 2016 photo. (Facebook)

After the horrifying incident, a building resident said its elevators generally were balky and often jumped when going between floors, according to ABC News. The building was recently fined $1,280 in May for unsafe elevator conditions, though that was for a different elevator than the one involved in the fatal incident. Last month, a work permit was issued to fix the wiring on both of the building’s elevators.

A state bill that passed in June would require stricter licensing rules for elevator mechanics and provide training standards regulated by the government, which are currently not required. But the bill has not yet been signed by Governor Cuomo.

The legislation was sponsored by state Senator Diane Savino, a Democrat representing Brooklyn and Staten Island. State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents Downtown Manhattan, is a co-sponsor.

Sam Waisbren in a 2014 photo with the University of Wisconsin’s Badger mascot. Waisbren was a Wisconsin native. (Facebook)

“The elevator accident that claimed the life of a man in Manhattan last week is made all the more tragic due to the fact that it could have been preventable,” Hoylman said. “That horrific incident underscores the need for the elevator safety law that Albany passed earlier this year.”

The bill, Hoylman added, “would ensure the proper training and licensing of the professionals who design, construct, inspect, maintain and repair elevators. I am hopeful that Governor Cuomo will sign this long-sought measure into law soon,” he said.

Following the accident, Cuomo’s office has said that the bill is still under legal review by state lawyers and that it has not been sent to him yet.

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